* ASX 200 slips 0.1 pct as big banks weigh
* Housing sector rises as construction activity expands
* Wotif soars after Expedia offers $660 million for the
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 7 Australian shares
declined 0.1 percent on Monday, slipping from one-month highs as
banks nudged the market down in low volumes following Wall
Street's close on Friday for a holiday.
The 'Big Four' banks lost ground after healthy gains last
week. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia was
down 0.4 percent and Westpac Banking Corp 0.3 percent.
Wotif.com Holdings Ltd rocketed 24.4 percent to
A$3.29, its highest since December after U.S. travel giant
Expedia Inc agreed to buy the Australian online travel
group for A$703 million in cash.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 3.1 points to 5,521.9 by
0206 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.6 percent on Friday and added 1.5
percent for the week, its biggest one-week gain since February.
"There appears to be a bit of a momentum trade - we bounced
off some technical levels last week and the market's just found
reason to go on with the job," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst
at brokerage firm OptionsXpress, though adding that volumes were
still very low.
By 0203 GMT, 131.9 million shares were traded, compared to a
daily moving average of 607.6 million shares this year.
The housing sector edged higher as a survey on Australian
construction activity showed the sector expanding for the first
time this year in June, led by strength in home building and a
rebound in engineering work.
Property group Stockland Corporation Ltd and real
estate investment trust the GPT Group both climbed 1.2
Miners turned lower after a bright start as London copper
began the week little changed. BHP Billiton Ltd was
flat, while Rio Tinto Ltd was down 0.5 percent.
Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the
Internet rebounded in June in a potential sign that
budget-affected softness in May did no lasting damage.
Aditya Birla Minerals Ltd surged 22 percent to its
highest since late April of A$0.25 after its prohibition notice
was lifted by the Department of Mines and
The New Zealand share market shed most of Friday's gains,
with the benchmark NZX-50 index 12.93 points or 0.25
percent lower at 5,175.98.
Contact Energy Ltd was 0.7 percent lower at
NZ$5.43, and there were 0.6 percent falls for Telecom Ltd
and Auckland International Airport Ltd.
However, overall movements were generally modest with most
of the larger declines among second tier stocks.
A new issue was unveiled with glass manufacturer Metroglass
Ltd looking to sell 143.7 million shares at NZ$1.70 each, which
would value the company at nearly NZ$315 million. The company
aims to list on the New Zealand and Australian bourses on July
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)