UPDATE 1-Australia's CBA cuts rates for small business and household borrowers

(Adds details on RBA move)

March 19 (Reuters) – Commonwealth Bank of Australia will cut interest rates for small business and household customers, after the central bank’s second rate cut this month to battle a coronavirus outbreak, the lender said on Thursday.

In an out-of-cycle meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed rates to an all-time low of 0.25% and said it would start on Friday a bond purchase programme in secondary markets, for its first venture into quantitative easing.

“These are unprecedented times, and they call for unprecedented measures,” CBA’s chief executive, Matt Comyn, said in a statement.

CBA cut rates on existing cash-linked small business loans by 100 basis points, and one-, two- and three-year fixed home loan rates by 70 basis points for owner occupiers.

It kept variable mortgage rates unchanged, but increased interest paid on 12-month term deposits to 1.70%.

Central banks, governments and regulators worldwide have doubled down on efforts since the start of this week to cushion the economic shock of the virus epidemic.

Australian authorities have ramped up their financial response amid fears the outbreak may slip the country into its first recession in nearly three decades, bringing a surge in unemployment. (Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Tom Hogue)

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