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Oil Price Shocks and Volatility in Australian Stock Returns


  • We are grateful to three anonymous referees and to participants of the Australian Conference of Economists 2012 for helpful comments.

Correspondence: Ronald A. Ratti, University of Western Sydney, School of Business, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia. Email:


This paper examines the effect of oil shocks on return and volatility in the sectors of Australian stock market and finds significant effects for most sectors. For the overall market index, an increase in oil price return significantly reduces return, and an increase in oil price return volatility significantly reduces volatility. An advantage of looking at sector returns rather than a general index of stock returns is that sectors may well differ markedly in how they respond to oil price shocks. The energy and material sectors (as expected) and the financial sector (surprisingly) are out of step (in different ways) with results for the other sectors and for the overall index. A rise in oil price increases returns in the energy and material sectors and an increase in oil price return volatility increases stock return volatility in the financial sector. Explanation for the negative (positive) association between oil return (oil return volatility) and returns (volatility of returns) in the financial sector must be based on the association via lending to and/or holdings of corporate bonds issued by firms with significant exposure to oil price fluctuations and their speculative positions in oil-related instruments.