September 4, 2017 / 7:02 AM / 3 months ago

Australia, NZ end lower as North Korea bomb test spooks investors

(Updates to close)

Sept 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished lower on Monday after North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, spooking investors.

The losses were led by financials, pulling the S&P/ASX 200 index down 0.4 percent, or 22.59 points, to 5702 at close.

North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile in the latest test, a dramatic escalation of Pyongyang’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.

The financial index closed 0.6 percent lower as the “Big Four” banks lost roughly between 0.2 to 1.4 percent, although the losses may not have been solely due to North Korea’s bomb test.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender, dropped to its lowest in more than nine months after it announced a major board shake-up.

Last week it confirmed that its internal reporting was aware of shortcomings in monitoring offshore transactions as early as February, well before it was accused of facilitating illicit transfers.

Healthcare stocks also weighed on the market; the sector’s index ended 0.8 percent lower with CSL Ltd down 0.4 percent.

But Australian gold stocks rose 0.8 percent as the gold price hit its highest in nearly 10 months after the North Korean test.

The ASX 300 metal and mining index finished 0.2 percent up on the back of upbeat commodity prices.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd closed at its highest in over four months, while BHP Billiton ended the day 0.7 percent up, its highest in more than eight months.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent, or 13.76 points, to finish the session at 7808.22

SKY Network Television was the biggest drag on the index, closing 7.9 percent down, while Fletcher Building Ltd was down 1.3 percent. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru)

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