June 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares declined on Monday, with financial stocks leading the losses despite advances on Wall Street as investors studied disappointing U.S. jobs data.
The data out on Friday suggested the labour market of the world’s largest economy was losing momentum despite the unemployment rate falling to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.
By 0242 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 42.914 points, or 0.7 percent to 5,745. The index rose the past four days, including a 0.9 percent gain on Friday.
The ‘Big Four’ banks were the biggest drags on the index, followed by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP.
“We’ve got some top-down selling,” says Michael McCarthy, an analyst at CMC Markets. “I suspect that one of the reason we’re seeing that top-down selling today is that investors .. are less positive about the (job) numbers we got on Friday.”
The financial index was down 1.7 pct as the four biggest banks lost between 1.3 percent and 2.2 percent.
Westpac Banking Corp hit lowest in nearly seven months, down 2.1 percent, while ANZ Banking lost as much as 2.7 percent, its biggest intraday fall in nearly four weeks.
The materials and mining index was 0.8 percent lower, tracking overnight losses in iron ore and copper. Rio Tinto was down over 1 percent, while BHP declined up to 2.2 percent.
BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said on Monday he has not met with activist investor Elliott Management since they had talks in Barcelona. BHP had rejected Elliot’s proposal to overhaul its corporate structure and spin off its U.S. oil division in April.
Monday’s falls in the index were contained by higher gold prices keeping the gold stocks buoyant.
Resolute Mining and Evolution Mining were among the top gainers on the index, rising more than 2 percent each.
Energy stocks contributed to the benchmark’s decline as oil remained subdued with an increase in U.S. output leading to continued oversupply concerns.
Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search were down 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, gains in AGL Energy of up to 1.9 percent and Origin Energy of 0.5 percent, pushed up the utility sector, while a 1.8 percent gain for Transurban Group lent support to the industrial sector.
The New Zealand stock market was closed for a holiday. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index added 0.7 percent on Friday.
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Reporting by Susan Mathew; additional reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru