Australia shares end higher on tech, healthcare boost

(Updates to close)

By Soumyajit Saha

June 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Friday and booked a weekly gain, as tech stocks surged on the back of an overnight rally in U.S. peers while a stronger dollar lifted export-reliant healthcare firms.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO rose 0.13% to 7,368.9 at the close of trade. It firmed 0.8% for the week to notch its fifth straight weekly gain, having breached the 7,400 level for the first time on Wednesday.

"Stocks have been very resilient this week and sell-offs have been marginal ... any risk from a possible hike in rates or other sources isn't manifesting in prices at the moment," said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Markets.

"There seems to be a tendency to rotate to other stocks instead of dumping them altogether".

Tech stocks .AXIJ jumped over 3%, after gains in U.S. peers drove the Nasdaq higher overnight.

Buy-now-pay-later firms Zip Co Z1P.AX and Afterpay Ltd APT.AX jumped 9.9% and 6.5%, respectively.

Export-dependent healthcare stocks .AXHJ gained more than 1% as the greenback strengthened against the Australian dollar after hints of a sooner-than-expected tapering of U.S. monetary stimulus.

Drugmaker CSL Ltd CSL.AX was up 1.1%, while medical device maker Resmed Inc RMD.AX advanced 2.7%.

But mining stocks .AXMM closed over 1% lower, with sector heavyweight BHP Group BHP.AX and top gold producer Newcrest Mining NCM.AX losing 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively.

Energy stocks .AXEJ dropped 1.9% as oil prices weakened due to the firmer U.S. dollar.

Woolworths Group WOW.AX fell as much as 1.9% to an over two-week low after the industrial relations watchdog said it was suing the country's largest supermarket chain for underpaying staff.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 ended marginally higher at 12,551.9, helped by gains in consumer and healthcare stocks.

Air New Zealand AIR.NZ fell 0.3% after saying it expected losses in fiscal 2021 and 2022.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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