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Australian shares close at 2-week high on IT, health stocks boost

07/07/2021 | 03:28am EDT

* Tech stocks end up 2.8%, biggest gainer on ASX200

* Challenger jumps 8.8%, leads gains on benchmark

* Energy stocks tumble nearly 2%

July 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at their highest level in more than two weeks on Wednesday, as technology and health stocks rallied, though the gains were capped by losses in oil and gas companies.

After rising nearly 1% during the session, the S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.9% at 7,326.9, its highest since June 22.

Tech stocks jumped 2.8%, tracking a record-high close on the Nasdaq overnight. Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay led gains on the tech sub-index, surging 4.6%.

The health sub-index climbed 1.7%, with hearing implant maker Cochlear Ltd finishing 4.4% higher to be the biggest gainer on the sub-index. Sector heavy-weight CSL Ltd ended up 1.4%.

Energy stocks, however, tumbled 1.9%, led by Whitehaven Coal Ltd that shed 4.23%. Worley Ltd followed suit with its 2.93% drop.

Oil prices suffered from a cancellation of OPEC+ talks that raised the prospect that the world's major crude exporters will turn on the taps to gain market share.

Meanwhile, New South Wales state ordered a week-long extension of Sydney's COVID-19 lockdown, warning that new cases are bound to rise as the city grapples with the highly infectious Delta variant.

Among individual stocks, fund manager Challenger Ltd led gains on the benchmark, finishing 8.8% higher as retirement services provider Athene Holding and private-equity firm Apollo Global Management acquired up to 18% in the company.

In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.09% to 12,747.8. (Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AFTERPAY LIMITED 0.88% 126.71 End-of-day quote.7.38%
CHALLENGER LIMITED 0.82% 6.14 End-of-day quote.-4.66%
COCHLEAR LIMITED 0.69% 236.48 End-of-day quote.25.12%
CSL LIMITED 0.97% 310.38 End-of-day quote.9.61%
WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED 3.64% 2.85 End-of-day quote.73.25%
WORLEY LIMITED -1.08% 9.18 End-of-day quote.-20.10%
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