Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched lower on
Thursday, as index heavyweight CSL led healthcare stocks lower
following a discounted equity raising while tech heavyweights
tracked their U.S. peers higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1% to 7,313.4 by 2358
GMT, down for a third straight session.
Shares of CSL dropped as much as 8.8% to A$271.14
and were on track for their worst session since March 23, 2020
as trading resumed after a two-day trading halt.
CSL, the country's fourth-biggest company by market value,
completed a A$6.3 billion ($4.52 billion) equity raise to fund
its $11.7 billion Vifor Pharma AG deal. The issue price
represented an 8.2% discount to Monday's close.
Healthcare stocks fell 5.1% and were headed for
their worst session since March 2020.
Tech stocks rose 2%, set for their best session in
more than a year, tracking the Nasdaq's strong finish
overnight after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would end its
pandemic-era bond purchases in March amid rising inflation.
Wisetech Global climbed 4.6% to lead gains on the
sub-index, while sector major Afterpay was up 3.4%.
Financials were up 0.5%, with the big four banks
gaining between 0.1% and 0.9%
In other major corporate news, Qantas flagged a
first-half loss owing to months of lockdowns. Its shares fell
2.1% and extended losses to a seventh session.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark stock index
fell 0.2% to 12,847.59. The country's gross domestic
product shrank 3.7% in the third quarter from the previous
quarter, the second largest decline on record, as the economy
was hit by an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
($1 = 1.3943 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by