(Updates to close)
By Soumyajit Saha
July 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Friday and limped to a weekly loss as fresh restrictions to contain a spike in COVID-19 cases dampened hopes of a quick economic recovery.
The country halved the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas each week as Victoria, its second-largest state, reported a record single-day jump of 288 new cases.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.61% to 5,919.2, erasing the previous session’s gains. For the week, it declined 2.3% in its biggest drop since the week ended June 12.
“Clearly there is a concern surrounding the subsequent impact on economic policy the virus is going to have here,” said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been the primary driver of activity this week,” said Rodda, adding that Friday’s numbers showed the pandemic was far from being under control in Victoria.
Among sectors, the energy subindex dropped about 2% as oil prices were hurt by fears that renewed lockdowns would suppress fuel demand.
Explorer Woodside Petroleum Ltd fell more than 2.3% and Papua Guinea-focused Oil Search Ltd lost 4.2%.
Gold stocks slipped 1.7% with Newcrest Mining , the country’s largest gold-focused listed company, shedding nearly 2%.
Mining stocks declined about 1%, with Rio Tinto down 0.7%.
Financials also eased, with three of the ‘big four’ banks losing over 1% each.
The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 644 while 947 declined.
Chorus Ltd was the biggest percentage loser on the Australian benchmark after the telecom infrastructure provider reported a drop in fixed line connections for the fourth quarter.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index settled 0.4% lower, hurt by losses in utility stocks including Meridian Energy. The index fell 1.4% for the week. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)