(Corrects additional reporting credit, adds editing credit)
* Tech, healthcare stocks track U.S. peers lower
* Rio Tinto, BHP, Woolworths trade ex-dividend
* NZ's Synlait Milk dives after withdrawing forecast
March 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Thursday as
renewed worries about rising U.S. bond yields soured risk
sentiment globally and a slew of local index heavyweights
including Rio Tinto traded ex-dividend.
Overnight, major Wall Street indexes closed sharply lower
after investors sold high-flying technology stocks, while MSCI's
ex-Japan Asian-Pacific shares lost 1.7% in early
trade on Thursday.
"The situation in the local market right now is related to
the U.S. treasury market," said Brad Smoling, managing director
at Smoling Stockbroking.
"This seems to be a big concern and the Fed has to step in
to do some yield curve control."
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.8% lower at 6,760.7,
weighed down by miners Rio Tinto and BHP Group
and supermarket chain Woolworths Group as they traded
Tech stocks fell 1.5%, tracking a sell-off in U.S.
peers. Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay slid more than
2%, while Xero Ltd shed 3%.
Healthcare stocks fell 3.5%, hitting their lowest
level in nearly a year. Sector heavyweight CSL Ltd,
which relies heavily on revenues from the United States, dropped
as much as 5.8%.
Bucking broader market weakness, the financial sub-index
climbed more than 1% to its highest in over a year. The
"Big Four" banks firmed between 0.4% and 2%, while QBE Insurance
Financials have added about 5% this week, buoyed by data
showing faster-than-expected economic growth, reaffirmation by
the central bank of its accommodative stance and extension of a
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed down
1%, with utility, consumer and healthcare stocks weighing the
Dairy firm Synlait Milk Ltd dived more than 10% to
hit a near four-year low, after withdrawing its 2021 earnings
(Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Tejaswi Marthi; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)