November 6, 2017 / 6:16 AM / 16 days ago

Aussie shares inch down as banks drag; NZ flat

(Updates to close)

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Monday, with Westpac’s results weighing on the benchmark as the lender’s net profit result missed expectations and pointed to difficult conditions ahead.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.1 percent, or 6.08 points, at 5953.8.

Westpac Banking Group reported a 3 percent rise in annual cash profit for the year ended Sept. 30, narrowly missing forecasts and sending the shares to close down 2.2 percent after touching the lowest in nearly a month.

Other “Big Four” banks followed suit, falling from 0.5 percent and to 0.7 percent and taking their place among the top decliners.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd said it would close its retail banking business in the Philippines as big Australian banks try to shed capital-intensive assets as capital adequacy rules become more onerous.

Materials dragged, with the metals and mining stocks index falling 0.2 percent.

Gold held steady on Monday, but hovered near the one-week low hit in the previous session. The gold index slipped 0.7 percent with gold miners Newcrest Mining and St Barbara <SBM.AX > both losing more than 1 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 11.49 points or 0.1 percent to 8053.63, dragged by consumer staples and IT stocks.

A2 Milk Company was the biggest decliner, shedding 2.1 percent as global dairy prices fell, followed by accounting platform Xero closing 2 percent lower.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is all but certain to hold interest rates at record lows this week to support a slowing economy as markets wait for the new government to map out its policies, including planned changes to the central bank’s mandate. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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