December 15, 2017 / 6:34 AM / in 10 months

Australia shares dragged lower by financials; NZ hits record high

(Updates to close)

Dec 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished below 6,000 points on Friday, dragged lower by banks as the country’s largest lender faced new claims from the financial crimes watchdog.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) added more than 100 new claims against Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for failing to comply with anti-money laundering laws, including late reporting of attempts to wire money as recently as August by an individual convicted of terror-related offences.

Banking shares fell on the news, with the Australian financials index dipping 0.6 percent.

CBA fell 0.6 percent, while National Australia Bank Ltd declined 0.4 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 percent or 14.300 points to 5,997.0 at the close of trade. The benchmark declined 0.2 percent on Thursday.

The drop narrowed the index’s weekly rise to 0.04 percent, its fourth consecutive weekly gain and its longest weekly streak since May 2016.

Real estate stocks also piled on losses as investors took profits.

Westfield Corp dropped 1.5 percent for a second day of losses after it posted a record percentage gain on Wednesday. The company’s shares had surged on news it would accept a $16 billion takeover offer from Unibail-Rodamco.

Conversely, industrial stocks were among the highest percentage gainers on the benchmark.

Transurban Group soared 4.8 percent to a near six-month high, while Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd ticked up 2.2 percent to its highest close since Feb. 2009.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.45 percent or 37.11 points to finish the session at a record high close of 8,360.86. The index is up 1.5 percent for the week after seven straight days of gains.

Utilities stocks accounted for most of the rise on Friday, with Contact Energy Ltd surging 4.5 percent to a six-week high. Genesis Energy Ltd climbed 1.6 percent to its highest level since July 25.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Galbraith

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