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Australasia, News

Australia shares fall after Brisbane announces lockdown

* Tech stocks close at over two-week low

* Treasury Wine marks worst day in over a month on China tariff

* Three-day lockdown in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

March 29 (Reuters) – Australian shares slipped on Monday, weighed by losses in technology shares, as Brisbane announcing a fresh three-day lockdown raised fears of a slow economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.4% lower at 6,799.50, after gaining 0.5% on Friday.

Australian authorities announced a snap three-day COVID-19 lockdown from Monday afternoon in Brisbane, the country’s third largest city, as they attempt to stamp out an outbreak of the virulent UK variant of the virus.

“The three-day lockdown in Brisbane for the coronavirus outbreak we’ve seen there, which has the potential to spread to New South Wales, took all the wind out of the sails today,” said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

“Governments are very quick to lock people down… and that does sap confidence and does highlight that its not going to be a straight line of recovery from the pandemic.”

Technology stocks tumbled 2.8% to close at an over two-week low of 1,930.50, with Afterpay shedding 4.2% and Xero losing about 3.5%.

“It’s been a pretty good quarter for a lot of these (technology) stocks, so maybe there is some profit taking,” Jennings said.

Healthcare stocks finished down 0.8%, with CSL slipping 0.8% and Healius losing 2.6%.

The energy sector was subdued, as oil prices slipped after reports of the giant container ship Ever Given being refloated in the Suez-Canal.

Meanwhile, Treasury Wine Estates fell 1.5% after China’s Ministry of Commerce imposed a combined 175.6% anti-dumping and countervailing duty rate for its Australian country-of-origin wine in China.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.16% to finish the session at 12,368.13.

The top gainers on the index were Serko Ltd and Meridian Energy, each adding about 3.5%.

(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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