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Australian shares end slightly lower as virus curbs increase

* Property stocks among the biggest drags on ASX 200

* Tech stocks limit losses

* NZX50 ends 0.3% higher (Updates to close)

June 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed marginally lower on Tuesday, with real estate, miners, and energy stocks witnessing a slide, as increasing COVID-19 curbs across the country dented sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.08% at 7,301.2, recovering from 0.9% drop during the session.

Australia reported on Monday that five of the country’s eight states and territories have been hit by outbreaks of the Delta variant of COVID-19, with around 80% of the population under some form of restrictions.

“The market’s confidence has been shaken with Perth and Brisbane joining Sydney and Darwin in a lockdown, and the earnings downgrade from Kathmandu is a red flag about the market’s conditions if lockdowns persist,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

“The real estate sector was probably expected to take a hit as virus curbs increased but dividend calendar has also weighed on the sector.”

Most property stocks fell as they went ex-distribution, which means that property stocks traded without the rights to the next distribution or dividend on Tuesday.

Mall operator Vicinity Centres and property firm Stockland Corp, which traded ex-dividend, were among the top percentage losers on the sub-index, dropping up to 4.97% and 3.8%, respectively.

Outdoor retailer Kathmandu Holdings fell 5.4% after downgrading its full-year earnings, raising an alarm for retailers by underlining damage to the industry from repeated lockdowns.

Miners closed 0.6% lower, pressured by heavyweights Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Group Ltd that fell up to 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively. Iron ore futures dropped over 3% on demand concerns from China.

Local tech stocks trimmed losses on the benchmark, closing 0.7% higher. They took cues from a strong finish on the tech-heavy Nasdaq on Wall Street. Buy-now-pay-later darling Afterpay jumped up to 2.4%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% to 12,639.8. (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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