* Key U.S. inflation data in focus

* FMG ends at lowest since Dec. 2023

* Tech stocks end at 3-year high

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended flat on Wednesday, as a bleak performance by heavyweight financials offset a jump in technology and energy stocks, while investors digested a weaker-than-expected inflation print for further cues on the country's rate trajectory.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 ended marginally lower at 0.03% to 7,660.4 points, snapping its four-session winning run.

Australia's monthly consumer price index increased at an annual pace of 3.4% in January. The Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) inflation target range midpoint stands at 2%-3%.

The central bank said on Feb. 20 it needed more time to be confident to check if inflation was on the decline before ruling out another rate hike. The RBA had in February considered hiking rates by another quarter-point, but decided to hold steady.

The RBA and central banks in general tend to underestimate the lag effect of monetary policy, according to Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbrocking.

"I do hope the RBA cuts rates. The damage has been done now. The real economy is stalling."

Investors now shift their focus to U.S. inflation data due later in the day.

In Sydney, banks led losses by slipping 0.5%, with the "Big Four" banks ending between 0.1% and 1% lower.

Meanwhile, top consumer companies also capped gains, with Coles Group, Wesfarmers and Woolworths Group ending between 0.4% and 1.7% in the red.

Miners lost 0.1%, with Fortescue recording a drop of 5.5%, its lowest closing level since mid-December 2023, due to its ex-dividend payout date.

Technology stocks led the gains by advancing 2.9%, recording their highest closing since December 2021. ASX-listed shares of Block rose 5.6% while Xero gained 4.4%.

Energy stocks rose 0.8%, with Santos advancing 1.4%.

The New Zealand benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6% to 11,763.32 points.

New Zealand's central bank held the cash rate steady at 5.5%, but said policy needed to remain restrictive. (Reporting by Roshan Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)