* Westpac closes at near 2-week low
* Rio, BHP hit multi-year closing highs
* Treasury Wine Estates worst performer on the benchmark (Updates to close)
May 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Thursday as the country’s second largest bank by market cap went ex-dividend, and Treasury Wine Estates tumbled, though gains in materials and energy sectors helped limit the overall losses.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 12.7 points, or 0.2 percent lower at 6,094.30 - the weakest level in over a week.
Westpac Banking Corp fell to its lowest close in nearly two weeks, declining 3.7 percent as it traded ex-dividend. The other three of the “Big Four” banks ended higher between 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent.
Shares of Treasury Wine Estates were the worst performer on the index, slumping 6.2 percent to their lowest close in over a month.
The wine maker said it is facing delays in getting clearance for some of its shipments to China, raising wider concerns about Australia-China trade relations.
Toll-road operator Transurban Group fell 1.7 percent after Australia’s competition regulator raised concerns about the effects on inter-toll road competition from a proposed 51 percent stake purchase in WestConnex motorway.
Support for the market came from a rally for Australian miners which helped limit losses on the benchmark, with the mining index closing at its highest in over six years.
BHP posted its highest close in over 3-1/2-years and Rio Tinto rose 2.4 percent to over a seven-year closing high.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.6 percent, or 47.87 points lower at 8,603.38.
The country’s newly elected Labour party unveiled its first budget on Thursday with billions of dollars in additional funding for housing, health and education, while also pledging to reduce its debt burden as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product.
Consumer staples were the best performers on the benchmark with A2 Milk Company recouping some of the previous day’s losses to close 4.2 percent higher. (Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)