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Australia shares fall on increasing coronavirus curbs

June 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Tuesday, with energy stocks and banks leading losses, hurt by increasing COVID-19 restrictions across the country to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6% to 7264.5 by 0047 GMT. The benchmark closed flat on Monday.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.7%, and S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.11%

Five of Australia’s eight states and territories have been hit by outbreaks of the Delta variant, with around 80% of the population under some form of restrictions.

The country on Monday decided to make vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.

Energy stocks lost 1.4%, as oil prices fell 2% to a one-week low overnight due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Asia and Europe.

Woodside Petroleum slipped 1.5%, and Oil Search fell 2% to its lowest level since June 2.

Heavyweight financials, dropped 0.7% weighed by losses in the “Big Four” banks.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank Westpac Banking Corp fell between 0.5% and 0.7%

Miners fell 0.9% pressured by heavyweights Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Group Ltd falling 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively.

Technology stocks were among the few gainers on the index in early trading, taking their cue from a strong session in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index on Wall Street.

Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay Ltd rose 1.5% and software provider Nuix Ltd climbed 2.27%

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% to 12,628.59. Pushpay Holdings was the top gainer on the bourse.

Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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