July 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday,
lifted by the healthcare and technology sectors, while
Challenger Ltd jumped after two U.S. companies bought a stake in
the investment manager.
The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.26% to 7,280.7 by
0020 GMT and was on track for a third session of gain in four.
Challenger soared more than 13% to become the top
gainer on the benchmark index, after retirement services
provider Athene Holding Ltd and private equity firm
Apollo Global Management acquired a 15% stake in the
Healthcare stocks jumped 1.9% after two straight
sessions of falls and were set for their best session in nearly
Biotech company CSL Ltd and medical device maker
Resmed Inc advanced 2% and 2.1%, respectively.
Tech stocks advanced 1.6%, tracking their peers on
Wall Street, and were set for their best day in about two weeks.
Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay advanced 1.4%,
while artificial intelligence company Appen rose 2%.
Gold stocks gained more than 1% as bullion prices
firmed on retreating U.S. bond yields.
Top independent gold miner Newcrest Mining advanced
more than 1%.
Meanwhile, local media reported a two-week COVID-19 lockdown
in the country's largest city of Sydney would be extended by
another week to July 16.
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was down 1.35%, while S&P
500 E-minis futures fell 0.14%.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6%,
weighed down by losses in healthcare and consumer stocks.
(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by