* Fears of second COVID-19 wave cap gains
* Australia to lock down 300,000 people in Melbourne suburbs
* Gold stocks hit 10-1/2-month high
* NZ shares snap 3-day winning streak (Updates to close)
By Pranav A K
July 1 (Reuters) – Australian shares started the financial year on a positive note as investors pinned hopes on fresh stimulus measures, though concerns about further lockdown restrictions in the country’s second-most populous state capped gains on Wednesday.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.6% to 5,934.40 at the close of trade, helped by a burst of late-buying after the bell. The benchmark ended 1.4% firmer on Tuesday after a senior central bank official said the economy would need “considerable” support for some time.
However, adding pressure on the index were reports that Melbourne would return to restrictions as it locks down around 300,000 people for a month in an attempt to stop a spike in COVID-19 infections.
Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec said people in the market were not expecting to go back to the same sort of retightening of restrictions again.
“The financial and economic impact of having people stay home for longer has ramifications for business, tourism and so on and that is the underlying concern.”
Gold stocks jumped 4.2% to their highest since last August as bullion prices firmed near an eight-year peak, boosted by safe-haven demand.
The technology sub-index rose 1.6%, helped by an 8.1% jump in data centre manager NEXTDC Ltd.
On the downside, healthcare stocks finished 0.8% lower, dragged lower by heavyweight CSL Ltd, while energy stocks fell 0.4%, led by Cooper Energy Ltd .
Helping limit losses on the main bourse was the financial index, which added nearly 1% with National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp advancing 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended lower for the first time in four sessions. The index was down 0.9% at 11,350.27, weighed by healthcare stocks.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp slumped 4% and was the top percentage loser in the benchmark.
(Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)