Nov 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Monday,
kicking off the new month on a positive note, with domestic
technology stocks catching the tailwind from a bounce on Wall
Street, while Westpac dropped 5.3% after the lender
missed annual profit estimates.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.4% at 7,351.2, as of
0007 GMT. The benchmark closed 1.4% lower on Friday.
Elsewhere, S&P 500 E-minis futures rose 0.2%.
Westpac Banking Corp said it would return A$5.7
billion ($4.2 billion) to shareholders in dividends and a
buyback, but profit at the No. 3 lender were below consensus
Refinitiv forecast of A$5.5 billion despite more than doubling
to A$5.35 billion.
Westpac, the best performing stock among the "Big Four"
banks this year, dropped 5.3% and marked its worst intraday
session since June 11, 2020.
The broader financials sub-index fell more than 1%.
Major indexes on Wall Street gained on Friday, as Microsoft
Corp closed at a record high to offset losses in Amazon
and Apple shares.
Australian technology stocks gained as much as 1.5%,
with software firm Altium rising 3.4%.
Healthcare stocks also rose, benefiting from a 1.2%
rise in sector heavyweight CSL Ltd
Meanwhile, AusNet Services Ltd said it agreed to a
binding A$10.2 billion ($7.66 billion) takeover offer by
Brookfield Asset Management Inc, but added that rival
bidder APA Group was free to make a better
Shares of the energy infrastructure firm jumped as much as
5.3% to notch their highest in more than a month. AusNet was
also among the top gainers in the benchmark index.
Miners, however, were set to record their fourth straight
session of losses, as weaker iron ore prices pulled heavyweights
Rio Tinto and BHP Group down 0.2% and 0.9%,
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down
0.3% at 13,061.3, driven lower by financial and industrial
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry