CSL drags Australian shares lower, tech stocks rise

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Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched lower on Thursday, as index heavyweight CSL led healthcare stocks lower following a discounted equity raising while tech heavyweights tracked their U.S. peers higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) fell 0.1% to 7,313.4 by 2358 GMT, down for a third straight session.

Shares of CSL (CSL.AX) dropped as much as 8.8% to A$271.14 and were on track for their worst session since March 23, 2020 as trading resumed after a two-day trading halt.

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CSL, the country's fourth-biggest company by market value, completed a A$6.3 billion ($4.52 billion) equity raise to fund its $11.7 billion Vifor Pharma AG (VIFN.S) deal. The issue price represented an 8.2% discount to Monday's close. read more

Healthcare stocks (.AXHJ) fell 5.1% and were headed for their worst session since March 2020.

Tech stocks (.AXIJ) rose 2%, set for their best session in more than a year, tracking the Nasdaq's (.IXIC) strong finish overnight after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March amid rising inflation.

Wisetech Global (WTC.AX) climbed 4.6% to lead gains on the sub-index, while sector major Afterpay (APT.AX) was up 3.4%.

Financials (.AXFJ) were up 0.5%, with the big four banks gaining between 0.1% and 0.9%

In other major corporate news, Qantas (QAN.AX) flagged a first-half loss owing to months of lockdowns. Its shares fell 2.1% and extended losses to a seventh session. read more

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark stock index (.NZ50) fell 0.2% to 12,847.59. The country's gross domestic product shrank 3.7% in the third quarter from the previous quarter, the second largest decline on record, as the economy was hit by an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19. read more

($1 = 1.3943 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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