July 2, 2018 / 6:53 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares end lower as financials outweigh property sector gains; NZ flat

(Updates to close)

By Nikhil Nainan

July 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Monday as financials offset gains in real estate stocks on the first trading day of the country’s new financial year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 percent, or 16.8 points, to close at 6,177.8.

Financials tipped the benchmark lower, with Australia and New Zealand Banking falling 1.5 percent.

On Friday, ANZ said it expects difficult trading conditions to continue for the foreseeable future, amid a damaging public sector inquiry into the country’s financial sector.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia was hit with a class action lawsuit, which accused the bank of failing to disclose widespread breaches of anti-money-laundering rules. CBA ended 0.2 percent lower.

Property stocks bucked the wider decline, with the Australian real estate index closing 0.4 percent higher after last week’s near 2 percent drop.

“Real estate was sold down hard in the lead up to the end of financial year last week, so that whole sector is bouncing back,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

Investors are also closely watching the outcome of Tuesday’s Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting, where the central bank is likely to hold rates, a Reuters poll showed.

“While there is no clarity on how severe U.S.-China trade tensions could become, the RBA is more likely than not to be cautious and assume a dovish tilt, if anything,” Mizuho said in a note.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed flat at the start of the week, as consumer staples and utility stocks offset strong gains in EBOS Group.

EBOS Group soared to a record high after it snapped up the deal to distribute pharmaceutical products to over 400 Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist stores in Australia from Sigma Healthcare. (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Syed Saif Hussain Naqvi; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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