(Corrects typographical error in the headline)
* Gold stocks surge as bullion gains
* CIMIC rises on highway contract win
* NZ says economy contracted in December quarter
March 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares were unchanged in early trade on Thursday as gains in gold and mining stocks were offset by losses in tech and industrials, while domestic jobs data showed a rise from January.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.05% at 6,795.2 by 2350 GMT.
Data showed that the country added about 88,700 jobs in February, higher than a Reuters poll projection of an increase of 30,000. Employment in January had risen by 29,100.
Among individual sectors and shares, gold stocks surged 4% as prices of the underlying precious metal rose after the U.S. Federal Reserve reiterated its accommodative monetary policy.
Gold explorers Bellevue Gold and De Grey Mining jumped 3.7% and 3.8%, respectively.
Miners advanced 1%, with BlueScope Steel gaining 1.7%
Tech stocks fell 0.8%, with buy now pay later co Afterpay and location intelligence co Nearmap Ltd dropping 2.8% and 1.4%, respectively.
Industrial stocks lost 0.4%, with toll road operator Transurban Group and property developer Lendlease Group falling 1.7% and 1%, respectively.
Meanwhile, engineering services provider CIMIC Group rose as much as 0.7% after it was selected by the Queensland Government to upgrade a highway. The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 786 while 520 declined.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.2% lower, hurt by losses among utility and tech stocks.
The country on Thursday reported a contraction in its economy in the final quarter of last year, raising concern of a second recession and quashing expectations of a near-term hike in interest rates. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh V.)