* Benchmark index records its best week in 6
* "Big Four" banks jump; Westpac adds nearly 7%
* Gold stocks snap four day losing streak
Sept 25(Reuters) - Australian shares ended the week on a
positive note, boosted by heavyweight banks, as investors
cheered the government's signals to ease lending standards to
free up credit and revive the pandemic-hit economy.
The "Big Four" banks helped the S&P/ASX 200 index
close 1.5% higher. The benchmark index recorded its best weekly
gain since the week ended Aug. 14.
The changes remove responsible lending laws introduced in
the wake of the global financial crisis that, among other
things, require banks to check whether information provided by
borrowers in their loan applications is correct.
Calling the move a very good sign from banks' point of view,
Henry Jennings, senior analyst and portfolio manager at
Marcustoday Financial Newsletter said, "It would enable people
to get a loan quicker, speed up the paperwork, free up the
credit market and hopefully stimulate some economic activity."
Jumping nearly 7%, Westpac Banking Corp was the
biggest percentage gainer among its peers with others adding
between 2.8% and 6.4%.
Aiding sentiment, Fitch Ratings said the A$1.3 billion
($918.19 million) record fine agreed by Westpac to settle a
lawsuit by financial crime agency AUSTRAC is manageable for the
Australia's second-largest lender.
Among other gainers, gold stocks rallied more than
2.5% as bullion prices recovered from a two-month low.
Shares of the top listed gold miner Newcrest Mining
advanced 2.6% while Northern Star Resources snapped a
six-day losing streak.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index gained 0.9% to end the session at 11,797.08.
Local shares of Westpac Banking Corp climbed 7.7%,
while Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp marked its
best day in more than three months.
($1 = 1.4158 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Deepali Saxena; editing by Uttaresh.V)