Tech, energy losses drive Australia shares lower

By Soumyajit Saha

July 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on Friday as tech and energy stocks fell, and power retailer Origin Energy dropped over 7% after warning of a steep fall in earnings for the next two financial years.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO ended 0.3% lower at 7,392.6 points, and was flat for the week. The index, however, gained more than 1% in July, marking its 10th straight monthly advance and the longest monthly winning streak since 2007.

"The monthly gain exhibits a good track record for Aussie shares ... over the week we have remained pretty steady despite the spiking virus cases as participants seem to be tracking Wall Street's recent performance," said Steven Daghlian, a market analyst at CommSec.

"There is also the chance of the domestic central bank keeping bond purchases steady or even potentially turning it up as a symbolic gesture of continued support at the next policy meet," he added.

The country's largest city, Sydney, reported a slight fall in locally acquired coronavirus cases on Friday, amid a further tightening of restrictions.

Tech stocks .AXIJ dropped 2.5%, the most among subindexes, with buy-now-pay-later company Afterpay APT.AX falling more than 5%.

Energy stocks .AXEJ lost more than 1% as oil prices slipped, with oil & gas explorers Santos Ltd STO.AX and Oil Search OSH.AX down 1.4% and 1.3%, respectively.

Origin Energy ORG.AX saw its worst session in over a year after it flagged a A$2.25 billion ($1.67 billion) charge in fiscal 2021 and a steep drop in earnings in its energy markets business.

Healthcare stocks .AXHJ were also lower, with heavyweight CSL Ltd CSL.AX down 0.9%.

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 dropped over 1% on Friday, to fall 1.1% for the week. The benchmark index also lost 0.5% over the month of July.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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