June 1, 2018 / 7:22 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares end down, banks rattled by ANZ; NZ falls

* Banks lead losses, ANZ slumps as it faces criminal charges

* Health stocks buck trend, Cochlear ends at record

* NZ dairy stocks tank as Synlait raises milk price outlook (Updates to close)

June 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Friday as the banking sector was shaken by news ANZ is facing criminal charges, while sentiment was further hurt by a U.S. move to impose trade tariffs against some of its key trading partners.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.4 percent lower, dropping 21.5 points to 5,990.4.

The index marked its third week in the red as trade tariffs and bank woes on Friday added to a sell-off following Italy’s political turmoil earlier in the week.

The banking index lost 0.9 percent after the Australian competition watchdog said federal prosecutors would charge Australia and New Zealand Banking over cartel arrangements in a $2.3 billion share issue.

The latest development compounds a publicity nightmare for the country’s biggest financial firms as they grapple with daily allegations of wrongdoing under a public inquiry, which is scheduled to run to the end of the year.

ANZ dropped 1.5 percent while National Australia Bank lost 0.6 percent to close at its lowest in more than one-and-a-half years. Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.9 percent.

Meanwhile, broader markets were fragile on heightened worries about a global trade war after Canada, Mexico and the European Union swiftly responded with retaliatory tariffs to U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Energy stocks added to the fall as oil prices weakened on oversupply concerns.

Origin Energy Ltd closed at its lowest in one month, down 1.6 percent.

However, the mining index was supported by strength in metal and iron ore prices, though global miner Rio Tinto , whose largest concentration of aluminium smelters is in Canada, fell 0.6 percent.

Some investors took shelter in defensive stocks such as healthcare, which ended 0.6 percent higher after having touched a record during the session.

Australian pharmaceutical heavyweights CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd gained 0.2 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, with the latter closing at a record.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.3 percent or 22.63 points to 8,636.16. The index ended the week slightly lower, its third straight weekly loss.

Consumer staples stocks dented the index the most after dairy products maker Synlait Milk raised its base forecast milk price for the 2017-18 season, signalling higher raw material costs.

Synlait dropped 2.6 percent while a2 Milk Company, which has a stake in the former, lost 3.9 percent and was the top drag on the index. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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