* ASX records fourth straight weekly loss
* Tech stocks slip to lowest in nearly a month
* Rio Tinto ends lower after CEO departs
Sept 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at their lowest
in nearly two-and-a-half months on Friday as hopes that the
coronavirus curbs would ease soon were dashed after state
leaders defended regional lockdowns and internal border
Authorities defended their decisions against increased
federal government pressure to lift the restrictions despite
falling infection rates across the country and particularly in
the COVID-19 hotspot of Victoria.
Denting sentiment further were souring diplomatic ties with
biggest trading partner China, with Beijing accusing the
Australian embassy in China of obstructing law enforcement by
sheltering two journalists wanted for questioning.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.83% lower at 5,859.4,
its lowest since June 29. For the week, it fell 1.1% and
recorded its fourth consecutive weekly loss.
Miners and gold stocks led losses on the benchmark
as iron ore prices slipped on weaker Chinese mill demand, while
the bullion weakened after the U.S. dollar strengthened.
"The major hit is the basket of commodity prices," said Dale
Raynes, associate director at CPS Capital.
"If the increased growth and rebuilding out of China and
Asia in general is slow, it will translate into weaker
short-term commodity prices."
Top miner BHP Group eased 1.2%, while Fortescue
Metals Group tumbled 3.1%. The mining sub-index
The world's biggest iron ore miner Rio Tinto ended
0.6% lower after its chief executive and two senior executives
stepped down, giving in to mounting shareholder pressure
following the miner's destruction of two significant Aboriginal
The tech sub-index sank 2%, tracking steep overnight
falls in its U.S. peers, with Afterpay and accounting
software firm Xero both dropping over 2%.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.5%
lower at 11,748.03, led by losses in utilities and healthcare
(Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)