Government policy uncertainty and stock prices: The case of Australia's uranium industry

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Journal Article
Energy Economics, 2016, 60 pp. 97 - 111
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. We investigate effects of government policy uncertainty on stock prices, reflecting tension between ‘private interest’ (economic benefits) and ‘public interest’ arguments over uranium mining. Using a sample of Australian-listed uranium firms from January 2005 through June 2008, we document a positive contemporaneous correlation between stock returns and volatility and two measures of government policy uncertainty, proxied by the spread in voters’ opinion polls between the two major political parties and a news-based sentiment index. Event-study results show significant stock price reactions to key uranium-related policy events, with cross-sectional variation in event returns predicted by models incorporating firm- and project-level characteristics. Our research design and findings may inform future research on the capital market effects of government policy uncertainty in other regulated industries.
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