August 4, 2017 / 7:16 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares falter as CBA falls nearly 4 pct, NZ steady

(Updates to close)

Aug 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended in negative territory on Friday as bank stocks stumbled after the country’s biggest mortgage lender was accused of money laundering by the government.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 14.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,720.6 at the close of trade. It still finished the week 0.3 percent higher, after two straight weeks in the red.

The benchmark edged 0.2 percent lower on Thursday.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell over 4 percent before finishing down 3.9 percent, marking its biggest intraday fall in over a year, after financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC initiated civil penalty proceedings, accusing the bank of 53,700 breaches, in the biggest case of the kind against a major bank.

Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking followed the downward trend, ending 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent lower, while National Australia Bank crossed over to the positive territory to end 0.2 percent higher.

Crown Resorts recorded its biggest one-day fall in five weeks as the casino giant reported a 16 percent drop in annual net profit.

Depite the market’s modest losses, the Reserve Bank of Australia forecast underscored that the nation’s economy was in reasonably good health. The RBA expects the economy will grow “above potential” at around 3 percent over the next few years.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 7.63 points, or 0.1 percent, to finish the session at 7,746.12. The index rose 1.4 percent this week.

The bourse was steady as gains in consumer discretionary stocks curtailed losses from other sectors. A2 Milk ended 3.6 percent higher, while retirement village operator Summerset Holdings led decliners. (Reporting by Hanna Paul; Editing by Lisa Twaronite)

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