Australian bank stocks up as lenders lift interest rates

Australian bank stocks are firing today, recovering from a mid-week slump and also as a number of lenders lift interest rates on certain types of mortgages in response to higher funding costs.

The moves by a number of Australia’s major banks come ahead of an expected regulatory crackdown on lending to riskier investors and low-deposit borrowers.

ANZ Banking Group said it was lifting interest rates for variable rates paid by investors and interest-only borrowers.

Westpac today announced a series of changes to its suite of fixed loan products, and last Friday said it would increase variable home loan rates for owner-occupiers, investors, self-managed pension funds and interest-only borrowers.

The moves by the pair follow the actions of National Australia Bank, another of Australia’s “four pillar” banks, last Thursday to lift standard variable rates in a move out of synchronisation with the Reserve Bank of Australia, which has been in an easing cycle since 2011 and has not lifted the official cash rate since the year before that.

Westpac shares were up 1.7 per cent, the best of the four pillars, followed by ANZ up 1.6 per cent, NAB up 1.1 per cent and Commonwealth Bank, up 0.9 per cent. Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up 1 per cent just before lunchtime in Sydney.

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