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Australia shares on track to fall after 4-day winning streak; NZ closed


[BENGALURU] Australian shares declined on Monday, with financial stocks leading the losses despite advances on Wall Street as investors studied disappointing US jobs data.

The data out on Friday suggested the labour market of the world's largest economy was losing momentum despite the unemployment rate falling to a 16-year low of 4.3 per cent.

By 0242 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 42.914 points, or 0.7 per cent to 5,745. The index rose the past four days, including a 0.9 per cent gain on Friday.

The 'Big Four' banks were the biggest drags on the index, followed by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP.

Market voices on:

"We've got some top-down selling," says Michael McCarthy, an analyst at CMC Markets.

"I suspect that one of the reason we're seeing that top-down selling today is that investors... are less positive about the (job) numbers we got on Friday."

The financial index was down 1.7 per cent as the four biggest banks lost between 1.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent.

Westpac Banking Corp hit lowest in nearly seven months, down 2.1 per cent, while ANZ Banking lost as much as 2.7 per cent, its biggest intraday fall in nearly four weeks.

The materials and mining index was 0.8 per cent lower, tracking overnight losses in iron ore and copper. Rio Tinto was down over one per cent, while BHP declined up to 2.2 per cent.

BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said on Monday he has not met with activist investor Elliott Management since they had talks in Barcelona. BHP had rejected Elliot's proposal to overhaul its corporate structure and spin off its US oil division in April.

Monday's falls in the index were contained by higher gold prices keeping the gold stocks buoyant.

Resolute Mining and Evolution Mining were among the top gainers on the index, rising more than 2 per cent each.

Energy stocks contributed to the benchmark's decline as oil remained subdued with an increase in US output leading to continued oversupply concerns.

Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search were down 1.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

On the other hand, gains in AGL Energy of up to 1.9 per cent and Origin Energy of 0.5 per cent, pushed up the utility sector, while a 1.8 per cent gain for Transurban Group lent support to the industrial sector.

The New Zealand stock market was closed for a holiday. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index added 0.7 per cent on Friday.