May 8 (Reuters) - Australian shares extended gains to fifth consecutive session on Wednesday, with healthcare firms among top gainers, as investors assessed the central bank's stance on easing monetary policy after it cautioned on inflation.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2% to 7,809.800 by 0042 GMT. The benchmark closed 1.4% higher on Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia held onto its 12-year high cash rate of 4.35% at the end of its two-day meeting on Tuesday, but it had discussed raising interest rates at the meeting owing to a disappointingly high inflation reading in the first quarter.

"Right now we believe that rates are at the right level to achieve this, but there are risks and at this stage, the board is not ruling anything in or out," RBA Governor Michele Bullock said.

"The most likely outcome is unchanged rates for a period, but further upside surprises will change the calculus," analysts at Westpac said.

For the day, financials lost 0.3%, with two of the "Big Four" banks falling, while ANZ Group gaining 1.3%.

Bellwether mining stocks lost 0.1% as iron ore prices steadied. Mining giant Rio Tinto lost 0.3%.

Energy stocks rose 0.8%, with Woodside Energy gaining 0.3%. Santos also advanced 1%.

Healthcare sector jumped 0.4% while real estate stocks rose 0.6%.

Information technology firms edged up 0.2%.

Financial services firm Perpetual Ltd said an affiliate of global investment firm KKR & Co would buy its corporate trust and wealth management businesses for A$2.18 billion. Perpetual's stock dropped 6.4% to hit its lowest level since Dec. 5.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index traded largely flat at 11,798.6900.

Investors in New Zealand are awaiting the central bank's decision later this month, where it is widely expected to keep its interest rate unchanged.

($1 = 1.5191 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rajasik Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)