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March 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Monday, on worries over global trade protectionism with financials and real estate stocks leading the losses.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slid 0.4 percent or 20.75 points, to 5,778.90 at the close of trade.
The benchmark snapped four sessions of gains after financial leaders of the world’s biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, giving way to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise.
Financials dragged the index the most with three of the “big four” banks losing between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent while National Australia Bank Ltd gained 0.4 percent.
Real estate stocks were the second-biggest drag on the index with Scentre Group Ltd closing 2.8 percent lower and Westfield Corporation sliding 1 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 1.4 percent lower, or 101.09 points, to finish the session at 7,057.05 points.
Material firms were the biggest drag on the index, accounting for more than half of the market’s losses after Fletcher Building slumped as much as 13.2 percent, posting its biggest percentage loss in more than five years.
New Zealand’s biggest-listed construction company snapped two sessions of gains after it cut its earnings forecast by about 13 percent, as a nationwide worker shortage led to project delays and increasing wage bills. (Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)