June 24, 2019 / 2:25 AM / 22 days ago

Financials and miners drag Australian shares lower, NZ up slightly

* All eyes on Group of 20 summit

* Westpac shares lead financials decline

* Stronger A$ weighs on miners

* Energy shares take NZ benchmark higher

By Renju Jose and Rushil Dutta

June 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Monday, with financial and mining shares declining the most, as caution prevailed ahead of the Group of 20 meeting in Japan where the U.S. and China are expected to discuss trade on the sidelines.

The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.2% at 6,637.20 points as of 0205 GMT.

The benchmark had advanced 1.5% last week and was only 200 points away from a lifetime high, which it had touched in November 2007.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua said President Xi Jinping would attend G20 meeting in Japan this week, giving the first official confirmation of his attendance at the gathering where he is expected to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

“Clearly the key to the trading week is likely to be any outcomes from the talks between President Xi and Trump,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

However, doubts prevail over whether any meaningful agreement will come out the meeting as the dispute between the world’s biggest economies has transcended tariffs, especially after the U.S. move to blacklist several Chinese supercomputing companies last week.

Heavyweight sectors on the benchmark, financials and mining, fell 0.31% and 0.22%, respectively.

Australia’s second-biggest lender Westpac Banking Group led the losses among financials, falling 0.5%.

Westpac Chairman Lindsay Maxsted, citing an internal report, said on Monday that the bank’s culture can slow decision-making and dilute accountability.

The bank’s self-assessment also found the approach to cultural issues was “less mature than our approach to managing financial risks”, Maxsted said in a letter to shareholders.

Chinese iron ore futures extended gains on Friday after hitting a record high last week on supply worries, but that failed to lift shares of miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto , which dipped 0.05% and 0.19%, respectively, as a stronger Aussie dollar weighed.

The local unit was 0.4% stronger against the dollar. A stronger local currency tends to weigh on the margins of resource exporters who sell their goods in foreign markets for U.S. dollars.

Shares of Aveo Group were the biggest decliners on the benchmark index, tumbling 11%, after the retirement-home operator said it expected 2019 underlying profit to more than halve, citing subdued property market conditions. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.2%, or 22.74 points, higher at 10,350.01. Gains in consumer and energy stocks outweighed declines in telecom shares, with electricity generator Contact Energy emerging as the top advancer on the main index, up 1.7%. a2 Milk shares were the second-biggest gainers.

Reporting by Rushil Dutta and Renju Jose in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill

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