Australian shares end at record high on healthcare, tech boost



* Miners snap 4-week winning streak

* ASX 200 extends gains for third straight session

* Healthcare stocks hit a month high (Updates to close)

By Savyata Mishra

July 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a record high after a choppy afternoon trade on Friday, as gains in healthcare and tech stocks slightly outweighed losses in financial and energy firms.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO settled up 0.1% at 7,394.4, after falling as much as 0.2% during the session. For the week, it gained 0.6%, recovering from sharp losses recorded earlier.

Healthcare stocks .AXHJ added 1.3% and led gains on the benchmark index. The closing marked a fourth positive finish in the past five sessions.

A 1.5% rally in heavyweight CSL Ltd CSL.AX boosted the sector, along with a firmer U.S. dollar. The currency was set for a second straight weekly gain.

Australian tech stocks .AXIJ followed suit, firming nearly 1% on strong cues from their Wall Street peers overnight.

Buy-now-pay-later juggernaut Afterpay APT.AX gained 0.8%, with Nuix Ltd NXL.AX , up 6%, leading the gains on the sub-index.

Still, gains among equities were capped by worries about the Delta variant of coronavirus.

"The relentless rise in infections casts doubt on whether the economic outperformance of Australia can continue," Maybank analysts said in a note.

Australia's most populous state reported its biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases on Friday, prompting a tighter lockdown in Sydney.

Among other shares and sectors, energy firms .AXEJ lost about 1.1% as oil prices slipped 0.3%. For the week, the sector was down 1.7%.

The country's second-largest independent gas producer Santos STO.AX and Oil Search OSH.AX fell 2.2% each to be the top losers in the sector.

Gold stocks .AXGD dropped the most, losing 1.2%, as gold prices dipped on U.S. dollar strength.

The country's miners .AXMM snapped a four-week winning streak to post a 1.4% weekly loss.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index .NZ50 gained after two weeks of losses, ending up 0.5%. It closed 0.1% higher on Friday at 12,736.32 points.
Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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