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Australia shares dragged down by financials; NZ gains

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares retreated on Monday, as a rally in resource stocks was offset by declines in banks and healthcare stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 6,060.8, down 0.2 per cent or 10.7 points.

The Aussie metals and mining subindex rose 1.8 per cent as Chinese iron ore futures hit record highs on concerns over supplies from Brazil in the wake of the dam collapse at a mine last month that killed more than 300 people.

The biggest miner on the index, BHP Group Ltd closed up 2 per cent, while Rio Tinto Ltd gained 1.8 per cent.

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Meanwhile, financial stocks extended losses, ending 1.2 per cent lower as interest in the big four banks waned as a result of the fallout from a Royal Commission inquiry' strong criticism of the financial sector for widespread misconduct.

The big four banks were down more than 1 per cent each, although National Australia Bank led the pack with a 1.6 per cent fall.

One of the smaller banks on the index, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd also dropped 6.8 per cent on weak first half results.

Sentiment for healthcare stocks took a hit as a Royal Commission inquiry into Australia's aged care industry opened earlier today. Index heavyweight CSL closed 1.7 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, shares of electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd closed 1.5 per cent higher after posting a profit, despite a downturn in sales conditions in the region.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent or 33.39 points to finish the session at 9,210.

Index heavyweight A2 Milk Company Ltd boosted the index with as 2.4 per cent gain, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd closed 1.9 per cent higher.

REUTERS