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Australia: Shares stung by banks, NZ stocks off record highs


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell for the sixth consecutive session on Monday, with losses across the board as investors awaited an interest rate decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index tumbled 1.3 per cent or 70.63 points to 5,168.50 by 2:55 GMT. The benchmark bounced 4.4 per cent higher last month.

Sentiment remained bearish after recent data out of China was too mixed to ease worries about slowing growth in the Asian economy.

Investors were also nervous ahead of the RBA's interest rate decision on Tuesday. The vast majority of analysts in a Reuters poll expect the RBA would keep rates at a record low of 2.0 per cent.

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The financial sector was hit hard with Westpac Banking Corp off around 2.2 per cent. The nation's third largest-lender by assets posted a 3 per cent rise in annual profit, but highlighted a fragile outlook with modest credit growth, intense competition and ongoing regulatory uncertainty.


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