September 27, 2018 / 7:00 AM / a year ago

Australian shares end weaker as banks, materials weigh

(Updates to close)

Sept 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares ticked down on Thursday as materials firms lost ground on lower commodities prices, while banks slumped ahead of an interim report from a powerful inquiry into the financial services sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged down 0.2 percent or 11.10 points to 6,181.20 at the close of trade. The benchmark tacked on 0.1 percent on Wednesday.

Banks bore the brunt of the losses on the day, with the financial index slipping for the fourth day in a row, down 0.3 percent at a more than three-month low.

The financial sector has been put to the sword ahead of the Royal Commission’s interim report due on Friday.

The quasi-judicial Royal Commission inquiry has already revealed widespread wrongdoing in Australian financial services, making it the worst-performing ASX sector this year.

Westpac Banking Corp fell 0.7 percent to its lowest since Sept. 13, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd dipped 0.6 percent to a more than three-month low.

Materials were also in the red, hurt by a weakness in iron ore and copper prices.

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd slipped 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining Ltd traded 1.4 percent lower.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7 percent or 63.45 points to finish the session at a more than one-week low of 9,286.4.

Utilities and consumer staples accounted for most of the losses, with Meridian Energy Ltd falling 3.6 percent to a two-week low, while dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd dropped 2.5 percent to its lowest since Sept. 10. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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