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Australian shares dip as banks fall on CBA spin-off plans; NZ treads water

[BENGALURU]  Australian shares slipped on Monday as declines in banks offset gains in materials and energy stocks after Commonwealth Bank of Australia stepped up plans to spin off its wealth management business as the industry grapples with a series of scandals.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 per cent or 14.8 points to 6,210.40 at the close of trade, not far from its best close in more than 10 years struck last week. The benchmark declined 0.1 per cent on Friday.

Index heavyweight Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) said on Monday it would step up plans to offload its wealth management businesses as it looks to become a smaller lending-focused bank, as well as announcing an overhaul of its executive ranks.

The announcement drove Australia's top lender's stock 2.3 per cent lower, making it the biggest drag on the benchmark.

The negative sentiment clouding CBA hit the wider financials sector, which slid 1 per cent. Others members of the "Big Four" fell between 0.6-1.1 per cent.

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But the benchmark's fall was restricted by a rally in materials and energy stocks, underpinned by higher commodities and oil prices.

Global miner BHP firmed 1.4 per cent and was the biggest boost to the benchmark, while its rival Rio Tinto Ltd jumped 1 per cent

Meanwhile, Woodside Petroleum Ltd gained 1.5 per cent and was the dominant gainer among energy stocks.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 3.13 points to finish the session at 8,996.24.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd fell 2.5 per cent and was the biggest drag on the main index.


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