CSL, energy stocks drag Australia shares lower; tech rally limits losses

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  • CSL biggest drag on benchmark, down 8.2%
  • RBA open to end QE at February meeting
  • ASX 200 drops for third session in row

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Thursday, hit by health firm CSL Ltd and energy stocks, though gains in tech stocks tracking their U.S. peers helped limit losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) fell to 0.4% to close at 7,295.7, after losing up to 0.7% earlier to hit lowest since Dec.7. It extended losses into a third straight session.

Despite a blow-out monthly jobs report and the Reserve Bank of Australia pushing back rate hike expectations, CSL Ltd's (CSL.AX) 8.8% drop was enough to drag on the benchmark index. read more

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CSL, one of Australia's largest stocks by market value, plunged on resuming trade after two days on announcing a discounted $5 billion placement to fund the $11.7 billion acquisition of Swiss drugmaker Vifor Pharma (VIFN.S).

The stock single-handedly dragged the healthcare subindex (.AXHJ) lower by 5.1%, marking its sharpest single-day fall since March 2020.

Energy stocks (.AXEJ) fell 1.2%, slipping for the third session. Beach Energy (BPT.AX) lost the most, down about 2%.

In contrast, Asian shares tracked Wall Street higher after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would end bond-buying stimulus in March, likely setting up three interest rate increases next year to tackle heated inflation.

Tech index (.AXIJ) was a bright spot, as it rallied 2.1% in tandem with its U.S. peers, with the sector darling Afterpay (APT.AX) settling 1.7% higher.

Among individual stocks, diversified miner IGO Ltd (IGO.AX) jumped 2.9%, hitting a record high after announcing the acquisition of nickel producer Western Areas (WSA.AX) for at A$1.10 billion, which jumped 6.2%.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (.NZ50) closed down 0.7% at 12,777.5 in its third session of losses. Data showed that the country's gross domestic product shrank 3.7% in the third quarter from the previous quarter. read more

($1 = 1.3976 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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