* Financials weigh most on main index
* “Big Four” banks biggest drag on benchmark
* Resources stocks tack on gains (Updates to close)
April 11 (Reuters) - Australia shares ended lower on Wednesday as investors switched from defensive sectors to resource plays on strength in commodities after Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on Tuesday of further opening the China’s economy and lowering tariffs.
Commodity prices were buoyed by Xi’s comments, while the export-sensitive Australian dollar firmed on Tuesday, especially against safe-haven currencies such as the yen.
“Today you see money likely flowing towards the resource stocks, I think it is a rotation,” said James McGlew, executive director for corporate stockbroking at Perth-based Argonaut.
Consumer staples, telcos and property trusts are traditionally seen as defensive parts of the market, he said.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.5 percent, or 28.3 points, to 5,828.7. It rose 0.8 percent on Tuesday.
The financial index contributed most to the benchmark’s weakness, ending 1 percent lower.
Australia’s “Big Four” banks were the four biggest drags on the main index. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp weighed the most, down 1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Australia’s competition regulator said it plans to review the market power of the Big Four amid concerns that lending caps have cut competition and high barriers to entry have stifled rivals.
Resources stocks gained, with the Australian mining index rising 1 percent; posting a fourth straight session of gains.
But miner South32 Ltd dropped 2.3 percent after it said its Cerro Matoso operation accepted notification of the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s order to pay damages to local communities, but would appeal.
Mining major Rio Tinto rose 1.3 percent while rival BHP tacked on 1.9 percent.
The most-traded September iron ore futures contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.8 percent.
Energy stocks also gained with the sector index rising 1 percent to its highest close in more than two months. Services provider WorleyParsons Ltd closed up 4.9 percent.
In New Zealand the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.2 percent, or 16.05 points, to 8,453.72, hurt by weaker consumer staples and materials.
Builder and materials supplier Fletcher Building Ltd lost 1.8 percent while a2 Milk Company Ltd fell 1.3 percent.
Reporting by Aaron Saldahna Editing by Eric Meijer