Commodity stocks drag Australian shares as China COVID fears persist

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Tuesday, dragged by energy and gold stocks, as China's COVID-19 situation and hawkish comments by a U.S. Federal Reserve official dented sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO fell 0.2% to 7,214.60 by 2354 GMT, with weak moves across most of the sub-indexes.

China has been reporting a record spike in COVID-19 cases, and aggressive restrictions to rein in the surge have caused a civil unrest over the past few days, although investors are hoping that Beijing could lift the curbs faster.

Weighing on investors' mood further, New York Federal Reserve president said on Monday the U.S. central bank needs to press forward with interest rate hikes.

Looking ahead, all eyes would be on U.S. November consumer confidence data due later in the day.

Domestic energy stocks .AXEJ fell 1.9% as Brent crude oil prices settled down.

Index heavyweight Woodside Energy WDS.AX dropped as much as 5% as its production forecast for 2023 fell short of investors' expectations.

Santos STO.AX declined 1% after announcing a temporary shutdown of its John Brookes Platform due to a small gas leak.

Local gold stocks .AXGD slid 2.3%, making them the top percentage losers on the benchmark, as gold prices slipped.

Top gold miners Newcrest Mining NCM.AX and Northern Star Resources NST.AX fell 2.2% and 2.6% respectively.

Miners .AXMM slipped about 0.1% as Singapore iron ore futures slumped on caution prompted by China's COVID-19 protests.

Financials .AXFJ dipped 0.3% with the "Big Four" banks losing between 0.1% and 0.7%.

Only local health stocks .AXHJ rose 0.7%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 jumped 1% to 11,423.040.
Reporting by Echha Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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