Nov 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares were lower on Monday, dragged down by financials as Westpac and ANZ, two of the country’s ‘Big Four’ banks, went ex-dividend.
Westpac declined 3.4 percent and ANZ fell 3.2 percent, both trading at their lowest in more than a month.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.2 percent lower or 13.972 points to 6015.4 by 0048 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Friday.
The Australian benchmark index was also lower in line with Wall Street’s decline on Friday. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week lower for the first time in nine weeks, while the S&P 500 Financial index declined 0.3 percent.
Investors in the United States turned cautious after Senate Republicans unveiled a tax plan on Nov. 9 that differed from the House of Representatives’ version on several key fronts.
Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at the Australian Stock Report said that the difference in the two tax reform plans had traders worried that there might be delays in getting it through.
Conway noted that Australian shares had risen in the wake of strong U.S. market rallies and could therefore fall back if U.S. sentiment changed and markets there fell.
The local financial index retreated as much as 0.9 percent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, however climbed as much as 0.7 percent to a two-month high.
Materials stocks offset some of the losses on the index, rising on the back of metals prices. Zinc rose 1.8 percent, lead gained 1.4 percent, and nickel was up 0.4 percent.
Global miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rose as much as 1.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index traded down 0.43 points lower to 7,974 or was flat.
The a2 Milk Company Ltd gained as much as 5.3 percent and Meridian Energy Ltd rose as much as 1.1 percent.
Xero Ltd weighed on the index falling as much as 5 percent to its lowest in more than a month.
For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nicole Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)