Australian shares slipped on Thursday, pulled down by financials after the government announced a wide-ranging inquiry into the country’s banking sector.
The inquiry reverses the government’s long-held opposition to such a commission as political pressure mounts following a string of scandals in the sector.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 per cent or 37.32 points to 5,973.80 by 0121 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.45 per cent on Wednesday and 1.2 per cent so far this month, on track for two consecutive months of gains, reports Reuters.
Financials accounted for more than half of the losses, with the Australian financial index falling 1.0 per cent to its lowest since Oct. 9.
The “Big Four” banks - Westpac Banking Corp, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Ltd and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd - dipped between 0.5 per cent to 2.1 per cent.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia led the declines, sliding 2.1 per cent to its lowest since Nov. 8.
Materials stocks also contributed to the decline, with heavyweight BHP dipping 1.1 per cent, while its rival Rio Tinto Ltd fell slightly to its lowest since Nov. 1.
Aristocrat Leisure Ltd reversed from a record high to fall 5.2 per cent and was one of the biggest percentage losers on the index.