March 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched higher on Wednesday, with healthcare and consumer stocks leading gains, while data showed that the country's consumer price inflation held at a two-year low in February, contrary to expectations for a slight uptick.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2% to 7,796.70 by 0037 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.4% lower on Tuesday.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed its monthly consumer price index rose at an annual pace of 3.4% in February, unchanged from January and under forecasts of 3.5%, reinforcing hopes that the next move in interest rates would be down.

The Reserve Bank of Australia had kept interest rate unchanged last week and had watered down its tightening bias.

Globally, investors are also looking out for U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, due on Friday.

On the local bourse, healthcare sub-index led gains on the benchmark, rising as much as 1.1% to reach its highest level since Feb. 13.

Biotech giant CSL rose as much as 1.4% to its highest level since Feb. 29.

Consumer staples index gained as much as 1%, hitting its highest level since March 8.

Heavyweight mining stocks rose as much as 0.2%.

Bucking the trend, rate-sensitive financials shed as much as 0.02%, with the National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking losing 0.5% and 1.9%, respectively.

The energy sub-index fell as much as 0.5% on retreating oil prices, as investors had varied views on the loss of Russian refinery capacity.

Sector majors Woodside Energy and Santos shed as much as 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1% to 12,017.31.

(Reporting by Sherin Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)