* Fresh COVID-19 cases trigger tighter curbs in four states
* Hammered travel stocks lead losses on ASX
* NZX 50 fell 0.18% (Updates to close)
June 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed flat on Monday, as heavy losses in travel and tourism stocks offset e-commerce firms after the country placed swathes of its population under some form of movement restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was flat at 7,307.3 points, with travel and technology stocks leading losses.
Over the weekend, Australia reported one of the highest numbers for locally acquired coronavirus cases this year, triggering lockdowns in the cities of Sydney and Darwin and forcing tighter restrictions in four states.
“These coronavirus-related lockdowns have turned the market towards trends first seen in the early stages of the pandemic last year,” Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter said.
“Supermarkets and online retailers are advancing with the two-week stay-at-home order, while travel and tourism stocks are again dampened due to the movement restrictions.”
Travel and toursim stocks were hammered with Qantas Airways , Webjet Ltd, and Flight Centre Travel Group each sliding about 5% to lows not seen in more than a month.
Online retailers won big with the coronavirus-related lockdowns prompting a rally in the “stay-at-home” stocks. E-commerce names such as Temple & Webster and Kogan.com closed above 10% each.
Panic-buying at supermarkets pushed share prices of Woolworths and Coles 3% and 1.8% higher, respectively.
Local tech stocks closed 2.8% lower with buy-now-pay-later darling Afterpay dropping up to 7.7% in its worst intraday session in more than six weeks, weighing on the sub-index.
Gold stocks tumbled 1.6% despite a slight rise in bullion prices, with Gold Road Resources Ltd leading losses after the Australian miner lowered its production forecast for the June quarter.
Energy stocks closed 0.2% higher, tracking an uptick in oil prices. Sector heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos gained 1.04% and 1.4%, respectively.
Stronger iron ore prices helped the mining sub-index close 0.2% higher, with index heavyweights BHP Group advancing 1.3% while Fortescue Metals Group jumped 1%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.18% lower at 12,603.8.
Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips