* Sydney Airport closes 34% higher on $16.7 bln buyout bid
* Tabcorp falls 5% on Lotteries & Keno unit spin-off
* Energy stocks up 2%
July 5 (Reuters) - Australian stocks pared early gains to
close flat on Monday as worries about rising COVID-19 cases in
the country's most populous state, New South Wales, countered a
surge in shares of Sydney Airport after a $16.7 billion buyout
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended flat at 7,315 points
after rising as much as 0.5% earlier in the session.
Sydney Airport soared 34% after a group of
infrastructure investors proposed one of Australia's
biggest-ever buyouts, a A$22.26 billion bid for Australia's only
listed airport operator.
"The rise in COVID-19 numbers in New South Wales has weighed
on the market a bit, after the morning trade," said Mathan
Somasundaram of Deep Data Analytics.
New South Wales on Monday said the next two days would be
critical in deciding whether a two-week anti-coronavirus
lockdown in Sydney will have to be extended amid rising Delta
Additionally, Australian dollars were weaker ahead of the
Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting, which could see a
course change in its massive stimulus programme.
Limiting gains on the benchmark was Tabcorp Holdings
, which fell 5%, as the gambling firm said it would spin
off its Lotteries & Keno business into a listed entity, drawing
an end to a company-wide review it undertook earlier this year
as interest built for a separate unit.
ASX 200 Energy index rose 2%, boosted by Australia's
largest independent coal miner Whitehaven Coal Ltd,
which rose 3.3%, and fuel supplier Ampol Ltd, which
Technology stocks fell 1%, as AI-data developer
Appen Ltd fell 5.1% and software provider Nuix Ltd
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose
0.8% to 12,812.3 points.
(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren