Australia shares end higher as tech extends gains, banks rebound

* ASX 200 tracks Wall Street gains

* Energy stocks fall on weaker oil

* NZ shares extend losses for 3rd day (Updates to close)

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Thursday as technology stocks tracked Wall Street gains for a second session and banks rebounded, while energy firms lost their footing on weaker oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7% higher at 7,256.7. The benchmark settled 0.6% lower on Wednesday and 0.4% down on Tuesday.

Major indexes on Wall Street closed higher overnight, as investors grew more optimistic that congressional Democrats and Republicans could reach a deal to avert a government debt default.

“The Aussie market has followed in line with what happened in the United States... there isn’t too much coming from local influences at the moment,” said Nick Twidale, CEO of APAC at FP Markets.

Domestic technology stocks closed 2.3% higher, with buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay adding 3.1%.

Heavyweight financials rose nearly 1% to recoup Wednesday’s losses, with three of the “Big Four” banks - National Australia Bank Ltd, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp - rising between 1.0% and 1.6%.

Energy stocks ended 0.8% lower as oil came under pressure from an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks.

Santos Ltd dropped over 2%, while Whitehaven Coal fell nearly 7% and was the top loser on the bourse.

Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd said it bought a 19.3% stake in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (API) , in an attempt to block Sigma Healthcare Ltd’s rival offer.

Shares of both Wesfarmers and API closed higher.

Investors are also awaiting U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday, expected to cement the case for the Federal Reserve’s slowing of asset purchases.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index weakened for the third straight session, closing 0.5% lower at 13,104.61.

The country’s central bank on Wednesday hiked interest rates for the first time in seven years and signalled further tightening to come. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)