‘We’re bloody lucky we’ve got them’: from pariahs to saviours

Original article by James Frost, James Eyers
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 7 : 31-Mar-20

Australia’s major banks have received 170,000 requests from households and businesses to defer loan repayments due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, bank CEOs warn that despite being well-capitalised, the sector will need to be very selective with regard to the businesses that it chooses to assist, and those that are already failing cannot expect to receive a financial lifeline. Reserve Bank of Australia board member Ian Harper notes that the crisis has provided banks with an opportunity to redeem themselves following the revelations of misconduct exposed by the Hayne royal commission.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA

Banks race to roll out SME loans

Original article by Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 15 & 18 : 23-Mar-20

The federal government will underwrite 50 per cent of new loans made by eligible lenders to small and medium enterprises as part of its response to the coronavirus crisis. Westpac’s acting CEO Peter King says the SME Guarantee Scheme will provide "significant support" to SMEs, while he supports moves to allow people in financial hardship to access their superannuation. The rollout of the scheme in New South Wales and Victoria has been complicated by moves to lockdown non-essential services in coming days, as banks work to keep as many branches open as possible in those states.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ

APRA relaxes buffers as CBA slashes rates

Original article by James Eyers, James Frost
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 19 & 22 : 20-Mar-20

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will temporarily ease the "unquestionably strong" equity capital buffers that it imposes on banks. This will allow them to make billions of dollars worth of additional loans to small businesses that are struggling to maintain cashflows during the coronavirus crisis. The Commonwealth Bank responded to APRA’s announcement by cutting its interest rates on small business loans by 100 basis points, while it also cut rates on one-, two- and three-year fixed-rate home loans by 70 basis points.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Branchless banks raise the bar as ME Bank and ING lead customer satisfaction ratings

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 18-Mar-20

New financial data from Roy Morgan shows that ME Bank has the highest banking customer satisfaction among home loan customers, at 92.3%. ME Bank is followed by ING (91.4%), Bendigo Bank (85.8%) and BankSA (83.7%). CBA enjoys the highest home loan customer satisfaction of any of the big four banks, with a rating of 74.1%. Total home loan customer satisfaction with the big four banks is 72.4%. The satisfaction of non-home loan customers follows a similar trend. ING leads the way with a rating of 88.6%, followed by Bendigo Bank (87.9%), ME Bank (85.7%) and Suncorp (80.5%). CBA again has the highest rating of the big four banks, with 79.3% of its non-home loan customers indicating satisfaction with the bank. Total non-home loan customer satisfaction with the big four banks is now at 77.1%. These banking satisfaction ratings are from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, in-depth face-to-face interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year in their homes.

CORPORATES
ROY MORGAN LIMITED, ME BANK, ING BANK (AUSTRALIA) LIMITED, BENDIGO BANK, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, SUNCORP BANK

Westpac CEO: banks strong, economy the risk

Original article by Jonathan Shapiro
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 20 : 16-Mar-20

Westpac’s acting CEO Peter King says the coronavirus crisis represents a ‘real’ economy issue that needs to be dealt with accordingly. He says Westpac and the other big banks can cope with an increase in bad debts and a tightening of credit markets, but helping business customers that have no cash flow to remain operating will be their biggest challenge. King says Westpac is ready to play its part in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus within the community, with appropriate procedures in place if a staff member tests positive.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, MACQUARIE GROUP LIMITED – ASX MQG, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB

Banks, retailers in talks over card fees

Original article by Eli Greenblat
The Australian – Page: 19 : 10-Mar-20

The Australian Retailers Association has estimated its members pay over $500 million a year in merchant fees on bank card transactions. ARA CEO Russell Zimmerman was invited to a meeting with Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh and Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn on 9 March, at which the fees issue was discussed. An initiative known as ‘least-track routing’, which aims to boost competition within the debit card market and to help reduce card payment costs, was among the other topics discussed.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN RETAILERS ASSOCIATION, AUSTRALIAN BANKING ASSOCIATION, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Analysts cut bank earnings forecasts

Original article by Gerard Cockburn, Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 21 : 5-Mar-20

JP Morgan expects the net profits of Australia’s major banks to fall by 3-4 per cent over coming years after they moved to reduce their mortgage interest rates by 25 basis points, in line with the latest official interest rate cut. JP Morgan adds that the prospect of lower profit margins may prompt banks to reduce their dividend payouts. Macquarie has reiterated its ‘underweight’ recommendation on the banking sector, while UBS has downgraded its earnings-per-share forecast for bank stocks.

CORPORATES
JP MORGAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED, MACQUARIE GROUP LIMITED – ASX MQG, UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD

Lower rates won’t help: AFIC boss

Original article by Cliona O’Dowd
The Australian – Page: 17 & 28 : 3-Mar-20

The Australian Financial Investment Company’s MD Mark Freeman argues that official interest rates are already at a historically low level, so further monetary policy easing is unlikely to stimulate the economy or stabilise financial markets. The Reserve Bank is widely tipped to reduce the cash rate on 3 March, and there is growing speculation that it could pursue quantitative easing later in the year. However, Freeman has questioned the merits of quantitative easing. He adds that the sharemarket’s recent pullback has created some good buying opportunities.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN FOUNDATION INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED – ASX AFI, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA

$A catches coronavirus, plummets to 11-year low

Original article by Tom Richardson
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 27 : 3-Mar-20

The Australian dollar reached a low of $US0.654 in local trading on 2 March, ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly board meeting. Financial markets have priced in a near-97 per cent chance that the central bank will reduce the cash rate on 3 March, and a 67 per cent chance of a second rate cut in May. Morgan Stanley expects the cash rate to remain on hold until April, giving the RBA time to assess GDP data to be released on 4 March. The Commonwealth Bank says the economic impact of the coronavirus could prompt the Australian dollar to fall further in coming days.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, MORGAN STANLEY AUSTRALIA LIMITED, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Rate cut tipped amid virus crisis

Original article by Richard Gluyas
The Australian – Page: 17 & 20 : 2-Mar-20

Financial markets have now priced in an 87 per cent chance that the Reserve Bank of Australia will reduce the cash rate on 3 March. This compares with an 18 per cent chance on 28 February. The case for further easing of monetary has been strengthened by the local sharemarket’s 9.8 per fall in the last week of February, amid global bearish sentiment as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread beyond China. Shane Oliver of AMP Capital says the RBA would probably have preferred to wait a bit longer to act. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has also flagged the possibility of interest rate cuts to stimulate the US economy.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, AMP CAPITAL INVESTORS LIMITED, UNITED STATES. FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD