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Nov 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Thursday, dragged down by financials after the government announced an inquiry into the banking sector and by resources stocks as metal prices fell.
The government said it will hold a wide-ranging inquiry into the finance sector, throwing the spotlight back onto an industry which has sought to move on from a series of scandals ranging from misleading financial advice to breaches of anti-money laundering protocols.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.7 percent or 41.215 points to 5969.9 at the close of trade. The benchmark gained 4.6 percent over the month.
Aussie financial index slipped 0.8 percent, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia falling nearly 2 pct and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group sliding 1.1 percent.
“The current Liberal government had been resisting this push - it was seen as some undermining the four pillars policy with regards to the Australian banks being too big to fail during the global financial crisis,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.
“But since then, there have been concerns with regards to the performance of a number of banks. There have been a number of scandals with CBA being hit with the most recent one. So the market has taken a big stick to the banks.”
Material stocks ended lower, with mining major BHP’s 1.2 percent fall weighing on the sector index. The mining index fell 1.6 percent but still advanced 3.9 percent in November.
Base metals declined on Thursday and looked to finish November lower, shrugging off encouraging manufacturing reports from China and Japan as investors locked in profits before year end.
Index heavyweights Rio Tinto was down over 1 percent while Newcrest Mining fell 3.1 percent.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended up 0.6 percent or 44.86 points at 8,186.82. It gained 0.7 percent over the month.
The consumer sector led the gains on the index but industrials and utilities were a drag.
Airport facilities provider Auckland International Airport Ltd was the biggest loser on the benchmark falling 2.2 percent, while shares of SKYCITY Entertainment Group Ltd and a2 Milk Company Ltd were buoyant, rising 4 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. (Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)