Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday led by heavyweight financial stocks, with investors keenly awaiting a key U.S. inflation data which could sway the timeline of easing monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 7,494.6 by 2354 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.7% on Wednesday.

Market participants now shift their focus to the December consumer price index report in the U.S. due to release later in the day for possible clues on when the Fed could begin cutting interest rates.

It is expected to show that headline inflation rose 0.2% in the month and by 3.2% on an annual basis.

In Sydney, rate-sensitive financial sub-index rose 1%, with the 'Big Four' banks climbing between 0.5% and 0.9%. The sub-index touched its highest level since Feb. 14, 2023.

Netwealth Group, AUB Group and Macquarie Group were top gainers on the sub-index, each advancing between 1.7% and 1.6%.

Technology stocks tracked their overseas peers higher, by rising 1% in the green, marking the sub-index's third consecutive session of gains. Shares of Xero rose by 0.5%.

Local real estate stocks gained 0.8%.

Australian property developers Mirvac Group, Dexus and Charter Hall Retail REIT advanced between 0.6% and 1%.

Healthcare stocks rose 0.4%. Australian biotechnology giant CSL Ltd jumped 0.5%, while Ramsay Health Care was flat.

Among other sectors heavyweight mining sub-index dropped 0.3%, local energy stocks slipped 0.6%, while gold stocks were unchanged.

Telix Pharmaceuticals, Weebit Nano and JB Hi-Fi topped gains on the index, rising between 2.7% and 3.3%.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 11,774.34.

Serko Ltd, Investore Property and Property for Industry emerged as top gainers on the benchmark, advancing 2.0%, 1.7% and 1.4%, respectively. (Reporting by Roshan Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)