Jan 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Thursday after global markets extended a decline on doubts about the number of U.S. interest rate cuts this year, even as the Federal Reserve almost declared victory in controlling inflation.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to 7,459.70 by 0021 GMT after a 1.4% decline on Wednesday.

Minutes of the Fed's December monetary policy meeting showed that policymakers were increasingly convinced that inflation was coming under control, but did not provide any direct clues about when interest rate cuts might commence.

In Sydney, rate-sensitive financials led the losses, falling 0.7%. The "big four" banks fell between 0.8% and 1.3%.

Heavyweight miners dropped 0.5%, tracking a fall in copper prices on concerns about demand in top consumer China.

Gold stocks declined 2% after bullion prices hit their lowest in nearly two weeks overnight.

Top gold miners Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources were down 0.9% and 2.9%, respectively.

Among other sub-indexes, information technology declined 0.5%, tracking Wall Street, while healthcare dropped 0.4%.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were up 1.4% after hitting their highest in nearly two months, driven by gains in crude oil prices on supply concerns following a disruption at Libya's top oilfield.

Sector major Woodside Energy jumped 1.2%, while Santos gained 0.7%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.7% to 11,647.50. The index fell as much as 0.8% earlier in the session, marking its biggest intraday drop in three weeks.

Arvida group, Auckland International Airport and Sky Network Television weighed the most on the Kiwi bourse, dropping 4.2%, 2.2% and 1.8%, respectively.

(Reporting by Aaditya Govind Rao in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)