* Gold stocks down as bullion prices slip
* Energy stocks fall on lower oil prices
* NZ lower
July 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on
Thursday, after the country's unemployment rate hit a 22-year
peak and rising coronavirus cases in some states raised a
likelihood of harsher curbs, reminding investors of the
impending economic pain.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7% to 6010.90 at the
close of trade. The benchmark rose 1.9% on Wednesday.
Australia's unemployment rate shot up to 7.4% in June, from
7.1% in May, and the highest since November 1998, according to
figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as workers
re-entering the workforce were unable to find full-time jobs.
"The nationwide (employment) recovery is likely to be
slower, as consumer and business confidence is undermined,
demand is more fragile and businesses more cautious about
hiring," Catherine Birch, a senior economist at ANZ, said in a
"Melbourne workers will feel the worst of it, regional
Victoria will also be affected."
Meanwhile, harsher restrictions are set to be imposed in
Australia's most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria,
if the COVID-19 outbreak is not quickly brought under control.
Australian officials reported 327 new infections on
Thursday, a surge that was almost entirely in the state of
Victoria, bringing the national tally to nearly 11,000 cases.
Gold stocks fell 1.6% as bullion prices slipped.
Dacian Gold Ltd, closed down 6.1%, while Emerald
Resources NL fell 4.9%
Gold fell 0.15% to $1,807.20.
The broader metals and mining index fell 0.8% with
heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto both
falling around 1%.
Healthcare stocks fell 1.5% lower, weighed by
industry behemoth CSL's 2% skid.
Energy stocks fell 0.9% as oil prices slipped.
Santos fell 2.3%, while Viva Energy Group Ltd
In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to
Top losers on the benchmark were Pushpay Holdings
down 3.9% and A2 Milk Co down 4.5%.
(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi