(Corrects to remove extraneous words in second paragraph)
* Financial stocks fall to one-week low
* Technology, energy stocks also weigh
* NZ ends higher, Summerset Group up
August 17 (Reuters) - Financials pulled down Australian
shares on Monday as a decision by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to
defer its final dividend brought the sector's payout woes to
The S&P/ASX 200 index settled 0.8% lower at 6,076.4,
with financials shedding 1.63% to hit their lowest level
since Aug. 10.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd fell 6.6% as the
mid-sized lender deferred its full-year dividend payment, citing
economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and posted
full-year profit that almost halved from a year earlier.
"At the moment, the financial space is where there's a bit
of uncertainty about whether banks will be paying a dividend or
not," said James Tao, a market analyst at CommSec.
"That's a big question mark moving forward for banks."
Though the financial regulator lifted a freeze on dividends,
it has said the payout should be less than half of their profit
Dividend payouts are closely watched in Australia, where
around two million people, or 8% of the total population, manage
their own retirement income.
Among other financial stocks, AMP Ltd lost 4.2%,
while the "Big Four" banks finished in negative territory.
Adding to the gloom, Victoria, the country's second-most
populous state, reported its biggest COVID-19 daily death toll
with 25 fatalities and 282 new infections.
Technology stocks slipped 1.2%, led by a 2.4% drop
in Computershare Ltd, while Afterpay Ltd lost
Energy stocks declined 0.8%, with Ampol Ltd
shedding 3.6%, while Cooper Energy Ltd lost
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose
1.93% to 11,672.95.
Among top gainers, Summerset Group Holdings Ltd
climbed 5.43%, while Ryman Healthcare Ltd gained 5.33%.
($1 = 1.3931 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu