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Australian shares fall as financials decline; NZ up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Friday with financials being the biggest drag after the banking regulator spelled out plans for a major investigation into back-to-back scandals at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 per cent, or 17.28 points, to 5,672.60. For the week, it fell 0.9 per cent.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said on Friday it would dig deeper to look into whether CBA's corporate structure had enabled a series of scandals that have hurt the reputation of the nation's biggest bank by market value.

The "Big Four" banks - Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group - all ended lower.

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The financial index fell 0.8 per cent to its lowest close in nearly nine months. It shed 2.6 per cent this week, the biggest since May.

Material and energy stocks also lost ground with miner Fortescue Metals Group falling 2.2 per cent and Woodside Petroleum declining 0.9 per cent.

However, the gold index finished up 0.8 per cent after prices of the yellow metal hit a fresh one-year high in early trade, despite concerns over a higher royalty payment.

Gold miners in the state of Western Australia are being hit with an increase in royalty payments under measures released on Thursday to help repair the state's finances following the mining boom collapse.

Gold miner Northern Star Resources rose 0.7 per cent to its highest close since July 14.

The gold index finished the week 2 per cent higher.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 per cent to 7,851.53, supported by industrial and consumer stocks.

The benchmark index finished the week 0.4 per cent higher.

Auckland International Airport and a2 Milk Company were the best performers, rising 2.6 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.

Z Energy was the biggest drag with a drop of 0.5 per cent.

REUTERS