The big four banks all fell more than 0.6 per cent, led by Commonwealth Bank, which skidded 2 per cent to $79.24. Telstra slumped 1.1 per cent to $3.49, while BHP and Rio Tinto finished down 0.8 and 1.7 per cent respectively at $36.79 and $91.80.
Elsewhere, consumer discretionary slipped 0.6 per cent, industrials dropped 0.4 per cent and healthcare eased 0.1 per cent.
Information technology was the only sector to close in the black, albeit well off the highs seen earlier in the day. It finished with a gain of 0.8 per cent, helped by a 5.9 per cent surge in Appen shares to $22.66.
Afterpay Touch endured a wild ride following its AGM, trading in a massive 13 per cent range. It ended up 0.6 per cent at $29.37 having been down as much as 4.7 per cent earlier in the day.
By percentage, waste management firm Bingo Industries logged the best gain on the benchmark, soaring 10.7 per cent to $2.80 following a positive trading update. Mayne Pharma sat at the other end of the scoreboard, sliding 6 per cent to 54.5¢.
In economics news released during the session, Australian wage growth eased in the year to September, with the ABS Wage Price Index increasing 2.2 per cent, down from 2.3 per cent in the 12 months to June.
“The slowdown in wage growth is not unexpected, but it will put further pressure on household incomes,” ANZ economist Catherine Birch said. “What’s concerning for households is that the RBA expects no material improvement in wage growth within the next two years.”
Separately, Australian consumer sentiment rose slightly in November, according to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute survey, coinciding with the RBA’s decision to keep interest rates unchanged earlier in the month. Westpac said this adds to evidence that rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia have contributed to lower, rather than higher, levels of confidence.
“This result continues to support the general view that consumers are somewhat unnerved by the announcement of low rates and media controversy around the banks’ responses,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said.
Across the Tasman, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand stunned financial markets and economists alike by holding official interest rates steady in November. The decision, at odds with market pricing and economic consensus, saw the Kiwi dollar spike over 1 per cent against both the greenback and Australian dollar during the session.