Australian shares rise as CSL boosts healthcare stocks

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Feb 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday, lifted by gains in healthcare stocks after biotech firm CSL beat half-year earnings estimates and said it expected its blood plasma collection business to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) rose 1.1% to 7,284.90, following a 0.5% drop on Tuesday.

Healthcare stocks (.AXHJ) led the gains, climbing 6.2%. CSL Ltd jumped 8.5% in its best day since March 30, 2020, after the biopharmaceutical giant said the underlying demand for its blood plasma products was still quite robust. read more

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"Health stocks are certainly on the consciousness of investors," said Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking.

"I don't see any downside factors that would cause a problem for them at this stage."

Miners (.AXMM) lost 0.5% in their third straight session of losses, as iron ore prices tumbled due to fears of a China clampdown amid price misinformation warnings.

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX) slid 2% after the world's fourth-largest iron ore miner said its first-half profit tumbled a third. read more

Among other miners, BHP Group (BHP.AX) slipped 1.8%, while Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) was up 0.2%.

Santos Ltd (STO.AX) slumped 2.8%, dragging the energy index (.AXEJ) down 0.7% after the oil and gas firm said it might not make final go-ahead decisions on its Alaska and Australia oil projects. read more

Technology stocks (.AXIJ) rose 1.2%, tracking Wall Street's sharp rise overnight on signs of de-escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions.

Block Inc's Australian shares , Computershare (CPU.AX) and WiseTech Global (WTC.AX) advanced between 1.1% and 2.7%.

Australia's central bank is scheduled to release the country's employment data on Thursday, which analysts expect to be line with expectations and give further cues on the state of the economy.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (.NZ50) rose 1.5% to 12,121.89, with construction firm Fletcher Building (FBU.NZ) climbing 6.7% on strong half-year earnings.

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Reporting by Upasana Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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