June 29, 2018 / 7:12 AM / 9 months ago

Australian shares fall on banks, health care stocks; NZ down

(Updates to close)

June 29 (Reuters) - Aussie shares ended lower on Friday as financials and health care stocks weighed on the benchmark, with investors cautious on the last trading day of the fiscal year. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 20.8 points to close at 6,194.6. The benchmark gained over 3 percent in June. The financial index, the largest sector on the board, was the biggest drag on the benchmark with three of the “Big Four” banks trading lower. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd closed 1.5 percent lower after Chairman David Gonski said the bank expected “difficult trading conditions in foreseeable future” . ANZ was the biggest drag on the index.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest bank by market capitalisation, slipped 0.5 percent after it said it would slash more than A$60 million ($44.36 million) in senior executive pay as part of a remedial plan agreed with the Australian banking regulator.

A damaging public inquiry into financial sector misconduct has seen investors wipe A$32 billion from the market capitalisation of Australia’s financial institutions.

The health care index closed lower for a fifth straight session, erasing much of last week’s strong gains. The index has risen for the past three months.

Amidst souring global sentiment, healthcare stocks, which earn a substantial portion of their income in the United States, rose over 5 percent last week on a weaker Australian dollar.

Biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd dropped 1.1 percent in heavy trade.

Meanwhile, miner BHP was the biggest boost to the benchmark, hitting a six-week high during the session. The stock rose 4.3 percent over the week.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 1.7 percent as at 0650 GMT, boosting investor appetite for Australian miners.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.62 percent or 55.66 points to finish the session at 8,943.13. However, the index gained 3.3 percent this month, its third consecutive monthly rise.

Consumer staples and industrial stocks weighed on the benchmark with A2 Milk Ltd declining 1.7 percent. Auckland International Airport was right behind the dairy producer, falling 1.3 percent.

($1 = 1.3526 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Aditya Soni, Nikhil Nainan Editing by Eric Meijer

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