June 22, 2020 / 7:05 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares end flat on fears over rising virus cases

(Updates to close)

By Pranav A K

June 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended little changed on Monday, rebounding from a 1% drop earlier in the session as fears of second wave kept investors on the sidelines, with gains among gold miners offset by losses in tech and energy stocks.

A spike in coronavirus infections pushed Australia’s second- most populous state, Victoria, to extend its state of emergency for four more weeks to July 19 on Sunday.

The move pressured stocks with exposure to travel and tourism. Flag carrier Qantas Airways and travel services provider Flight Centre Travel Group gave up more than 4% each.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.03% higher at 5,944.5 points in a second straight session of gains, after falling 1% in early trade. The benchmark rose 0.1% on Friday.

Gold stocks jumped 4.5% to a near three-week high, the metal prices strengthened in safe haven buying.

Meanwhile, the financial sub index reversed course to end higher after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said the economic downturn in the country was not as severe as expected.

However, Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities, said the RBA was talking up the economy, despite reality being far from it.

He added that a V-shape recovery is a pipe dream and “will meet reality in July U.S. reporting season”.

The technology sector slipped 1.7% led by Altium Ltd and WiseTech Global Ltd, losing 7.6% and 5.6%, respectively.

ASX 200 Energy index also ended lower following a slide in oil prices, with oil and gas explorer Cooper Energy Ltd leading lossses and ending down 3.8%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to finish the session at 11,158.46.

Shares of A2 Milk Company Ltd dropped 4.7%, after the dairy producer confirmed it was in discussions multiple parties for potential strategic options relating to manufacturing capabilities. (Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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