* Financials slump to near 4-week low, down nearly 2 pct
* CBA books further $500 million remediation charge
* ANZ, Macquarie trade ex-dividend; NAB, Westpac to follow soon
By Rashmi Ashok
May 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Monday, as financial stocks plunged after the country’s top lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, reported disappointing third-quarter results, while other top banks also traded ex-dividend.
The S&P/ASX 200 index had eased 0.3 percent or 21.4 points to 6,289.5 by 0110 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Friday.
Financial stocks plunged nearly 2 percent after Commonwealth Bank of Australia took a hit to its third-quarter cash profit and announced a further A$714 million ($498.59 million) in provisions to compensate customers for wrongdoing.
CBA and other top banks have spent millions in compensation to wronged customers, as they attempt to mend their reputation after the damaging Royal Commission enquiry into systemic misconduct in the sector.
CBA fell as much as 3.1 percent, while National Australia Bank Ltd lost 1.3 percent and Westpac Banking Corp shed 0.7 percent.
“They’ve outperformed in the last couple of months, so its a bit of steam coming off in that context. CBA’s provisions will also weigh on the others,” Mathan Somasundaram, Market Portfolio Strategist at Blue Ocean Equities said.
He added that May was in general a weak month for Aussie financials as top banks trade ex-dividend during the period.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Macquarie Group dropped 4.1 percent each, as shares of both traded ex-dividend.
NAB and Westpac are set to trade ex-dividend on May 14 and 16, respectively.
Investors were left in a state of heightened uncertinty by the apparent deadlock in trade negotiations between the United States and China, with Washington demanding promises of concrete changes to Chinese law while Beijing remained defiant.
Energy stocks also slipped with Woodside Petroleum Ltd shedding 0.8 percent.
Trepidation propped up healthcare stocks, a defensive sector in times of market volatility, with index heavyweight CSL Ltd rising as much as 1.3 percent.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent or 27.48 points to 10,126.85.
Dairy firm a2 Milk Company rose as much as 0.5 percent while Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund put on 1.2 percent. ($1 = 1.4320 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)