Australian shares rise on healthcare boost, set for fifth weekly gain

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Feb 3 (Reuters) -Australian shares edged higher on Friday, and were set for their fifth consecutive weekly gain, as strong gains in healthcare and banking stocks outweighed losses in commodity-related sectors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO was up 0.4% at 7,539.3, as of 0017 GMT, rising more than 0.6% so far this week.

Shares of U.S. export-reliant healthcare firms .AXHJ jumped over 2% to hit their highest in more than a year after the dollar =USD bounced. FRX/

Biotech major CSL Ltd CSL.AX rose as much as 2.7%, hitting its highest since November 2021.

Technology stocks .AXIJ took cues from Wall Street's strong finish overnight and rose as much as 1.7% to touch their highest since Sept. 14, 2022.

Financials .AXFJ traded in positive territory, adding 0.9%. All the "big four" banks were up, with ANZ Group Holdings ANZ.AX rising 1.1%.

Australian markets have priced in at least two more 25 basis-point rate hikes during this tightening cycle after inflation jumped to a 33-year high in the fourth quarter.

Heavyweight mining stocks .AXMM fell 1.8% and were the biggest drag on the benchmark index, after iron ore prices hit a two-week low on Thursday amid concerns about China demand recovery. IRONORE/

Iron ore behemoths BHP Group BHP.AX, Rio Tinto RIO.AX and Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AX fell between 2.3% and 1.5%.

Energy stocks .AXEJ declined 0.8% after oil prices slumped overnight. Sector majors Woodside WDS.AX and Santos STO.AX lost 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively. O/R

Gold stocks .AXGD fell 3.7% after rising 4.2% on Thursday, as bullion prices reversed course to slip nearly 2% overnight. GOL/

Northern Star Resources NST.AX and NewCrest Mining NCM.AX lost about 3% each.

Among individual stocks, Insurance Australia Group IAG.AX plunged 7.7% and was staring at its worst session since March 2021, after the company received more than 15,000 claims post massive floods in New Zealand.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 rose 0.2% to 12,170.06.

Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

For more information on DIARIES & DATA: U.S. earnings diary RESF/US Wall Street Week Ahead .N/O Global Economy Week Ahead DATA/ ................................................................ For latest top breaking news across all markets NEWS1

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