* Mining stocks hit their lowest in a week
* Australia's "Big Four" banks down more than 1%
* NZ to lift restrictions across country, except in Auckland
Sept 21 (Reuters) - Australia shares on Monday ended at
their lowest since the end of June, dragged lower by the
so-called "Big Four" banks and major miners, which fell more
than 1% on weaker iron ore prices.
The benchmark indexes in both Australia and New Zealand
ended in the red for a third straight day, with Sydney's ASX 200
down 0.7% and Wellington's NZX 50 closing 0.8%
Top iron ore miners Rio Tinto, BHP Group
and Fortescue Metals Group fell 1.2% each as prices of
the steelmaking ingredient dropped 2.2% on Monday due to
sluggish downstream demand and fresh environmental restrictions
in a main steelmaking area.
Property manager Dexus was among the top losers on
the Australian benchmark after Morgan Stanley slashed its rating
to "underweight" and raised doubts over when the work-from-home
era will end.
Banks also came under pressure with Australia's "Big Four"
lenders down between 1.3% and 1.5%.
The drop comes amid heavy global losses among top lenders
such as HSBC and Standard Chartered after
media reports said the banks and others moved large sums of
allegedly illicit funds over nearly two decades despite red
flags about the origins of the money.
"News about what's happened in illicit transfers through the
banking system in the United States is hitting the banks in
Europe as well as in Asia, so we expect that's going to hit the
U.S. market as well", said Mathan Somasundaram, a market
portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.
The New Zealand benchmark index closed at its lowest in more
than a month with corporate travel management firm Serko
leading losses with a 4.6% drop.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all
coronavirus restrictions across the country were lifted, except
in the second-wave hotspot city of Auckland.
(Reporting by Deepali Saxena in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry