Australian shares cautious as investors await decision, U.S. election

* Australia, NZ shares poised to fall for a third straight day

* Westpac’s FY profit slumps 62%, resinstates dividend

* RBA expected to cut key rates to historic low of 0.1%

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares got off to a cautious start on Monday as investors avoided big bets ahead of a central bank rate decision and the U.S. presidential election, with financials dropping after weaker results from the country’s second-largest lender.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1% to 5,922.8 by 0015 GMT, recouping some losses after dropping to a near one-month low in the session. The benchmark index is on track for a third straight session of losses.

Investors were on the sidelines awaiting the Australian central bank’s decision on Tuesday, where it is expected to cut key rates, with the threat of a contested election result in Washington adding to the caution.

“The worst case scenario for markets is a long period of electoral uncertainty, either through a close contest or a disputed result... The most immediate concern for markets is that political paralysis will delay or diminish a fiscal response to the deteriorating coronavirus situation,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets said in a note.

Financial shares, the benchmark’s largest component, slipped 0.4% after the country’s second-largest lender Westpac Banking Corp revealed a 62% plunge in full-year cash profit, sending its shares nearly 2% lower.

Embattled wealth manager AMP Ltd jumped 8.8% after it said the proposed takeover offer from Ares Management had an implied value of A$1.85 a share, a 21% premium to Friday’s closing price.

Technology shares and energy stocks fell 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped half a percent to 12,024.7 and was also trading lower for a third consecutive day.

Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V