October 4, 2017 / 6:31 AM / a year ago

Australia shares end lower as financials, resources drag

(Updates to close)

By Aaron Saldanha

Oct. 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Wednesday as a decline in oil prices dented energy-related stocks, while a weaker local currency prompted some investors to trim their exposure to local assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.9 percent, or 49.342 points, to 5,652.1 at the close of trade. The benchmark shed 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

Energy stocks fell more than 1 percent as Brent crude futures dipped 0.7 percent on fears that a rally which had lifted Brent to mid-2015 highs by late September had been overdone.

Caltex Australia and Beach Energy both closed more than 1.7 percent lower.

The Australian dollar fell as much as 0.5 percent, continuing its decline for a second session after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on Tuesday kept its benchmark rate at a historic low of 1.50 percent.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group dragged the index the most, falling 2.1 percent to its lowest since Sept. 8.

Major miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton also closed in the red, ending the day 1.6 percent and 0.6 percent lower, respectively.

On the other hand, Commonwealth Bank of Australia drove most of the gains, ending up 0.3 percent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2 percent or 16.27 points to finish the session at 7949.69, supported by consumer staples and utility stocks.

Dairy company A2 Milk, the biggest percentage gainer, lifted the index the most and ended the day up 5.1 percent.

Meanwhile, home builder Fletcher Building Ltd was the biggest drag on the Kiwi benchmark index, falling as much as 2.4 percent before recovering marginally to close down 1.1 percent.

Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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