* Aussie tech stocks jump nearly 2%
* Mesoblast tumbles on bigger loss
* NZ extends gains to third session
Aug 31 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, driven
by technology and healthcare stocks, although a sharp drop in
biotech firm Mesoblast due to disappointing earnings kept a lid
The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.4% to end at
7,534.9, its highest close since Aug. 16.
Australian stocks took cues from solid current account data
and an upbeat New York session overnight, Jeffrey Halley, a
market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.
Australia's current account surplus rose to a record A$20.5
billion in the June quarter, due to booming prices for iron ore
and robust demand from China.
"The current account is likely to bulge even more in Q3 as
state-wide lockdowns erode consumer demand while exports remain
robust," Halley said.
Tech stocks jumped nearly 2% after major U.S. stock
indexes closed at record highs overnight as dovish comments from
the Federal Reserve chairman on monetary stimulus tapering
soothed investor nerves.
Appen and Wisetech Global were the top
gainers on the tech index, rising more than 7% and 6%,
Biotech firm Mesoblast tumbled almost 15% and was
the top drag, after it said its full-year loss widened. The
company is still chasing regulatory approval from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration for its flagship product.
However, the healthcare sub-index gained 0.9%.
Energy stocks slumped 1.4%, tracking a downturn in
oil prices on concerns about damage from Hurricane Ida.
Heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Worley
shed 2.6% and 3.5%, respectively.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
extended gains to a third session, rising 0.3% to 13,218.83,
after new COVID-19 cases fell for a second day amid a tight
(Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by