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Westpac, other financials lead

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) shrugged off a late morning dip yesterday where it fell to a low of 4,960 index points as investors participated in cautious trading before the release of Chinese economic data, to finish at 4,981.1 for the day – a gain of 7.2 points.

The rise marked the index’s fifth consecutive day of increases, with the major banks and other financial groups leading the way. Westpac (ASX: WBC) was the best performing bank, giving shareholders a gain of 25c or 0.86%, whilst ANZ (ASX: ANZ), NAB (ASX: NAB) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) rose between 0.3% to 0.8%. Meanwhile, Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) rose 42c to finish at $45.16, marking a 0.94% increase for the day.

With Commonwealth Bank’s dividend payout coming sooner than its main competitors’, we could see the bank’s stocks move marginally higher than the others in the coming weeks. Whilst the company is expected to announce a record profit of $7.6 billion for the year, shareholders will be expecting an increased payout. On the other hand, however, it is currently trading at a higher P/E than the other banks and has less near-term growth prospects as well, which could make investors think twice.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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