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Australian shares slide on rising COVID-19 cases; tech stocks drag

June 1 (Reuters) - Australian stocks slid on Tuesday as rising COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria dented sentiment, with investors eyeing a rate decision by the country’s central bank later in the day.

The benchmark ASX 200 index shed 0.4% to 7,135.2 by 0012 GMT, having closed 0.2% lower on Monday.

Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria added nine new local COVID-19 cases on Tuesday after state authorities called the situation “incredibly serious”.

The focus now shifts to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy review meeting, where it is expected to hold rates at record low for a sixth straight time.

Among sectors, tech stocks were the worst hit, losing over 1% in their biggest one-day fall in nearly two weeks. Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay Ltd shed 2.3%.

Financials eased 0.6% with the “big four” banks losing between 0.4% and 0.7%.

Gold stocks followed suit, declining 0.6% even as prices were on course for their biggest monthly jump since July 2020.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd and Northern Star Resources Ltd shed 0.4% and 0.9%, respectively.

However, heavyweight mining stocks were up nearly 1%, hitting their highest level in nearly two weeks, as iron ore futures surged.

Mining titans Rio Tinto and BHP Group added 1.3% and 1.1%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Nine Entertainment Co Holdings jumped 4% to be among the top gainers on the benchmark after announcing multi-year content-supply deals with Google and Facebook.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index was largely unchanged, trading down 0.1% to 12,308.3.

Freight gateway operator Port of Tauranga Ltd was the top loser on the bourse, shedding about 2%.

In other markets, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.02% at 28,866.14 and S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 3.5 points, or 0.08%. (Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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