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Company News

Australia shares end lower on financials and consumers; NZ recovers

* Big Four Banks fall between 0.8% and 1.3%

* ASX-listed shares of a2 Milk drop ~11%

* NZ bourse recovers on energy sector gains (Updates to close)

Sept 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower in a low-volume session on Monday, with financials and consumers stocks weighing the most.

The S&P/ASX 200 index swung between gains and losses throughout the session before settling 0.2% lower at 5,952.3. More than 571.9 million shares changed hands, compared with the 30-day average of 803.6 million shares.

Heavyweight financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index, losing 0.6% after a 3.7% jump in the previous session.

All “Big Four” banks closed in negative territory, with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp losing 1% and 1.1%, respectively.

“Banks are seeing profit-taking after a big move last week,” said Henry Jennings, a senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

Among consumer firms, a2 Milk’s Australian shares were the biggest losers, declining 10.7% after the New Zealand-based dairy firm forecast lower first-half revenue on disruptions to Chinese sales.

“The moves are very stock specific and waiting for a catalyst with not a lot of conviction either way,” Jennings added.

Miners were the biggest drags, with global iron ore mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto declining 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus hotspot Victoria state recorded a single-digit rise in new cases for the first time in three months and lifted some of its tough restrictions, raising hopes for a near-normal conditions by the year end.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended marginally higher at 11,802.29, recovering from a near 2% drop earlier in the session.

Losses in a2 Milk shares were offset by gains in electricity generators Meridian Energy and Mercury NZ , which rose 6.6% and 7.4% respectively after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced negotiations with Rio Tinto to extend operations of its local aluminium smelters. (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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