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Australia shares end 7-day rally as miners and healthcare slip; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped on Thursday, with recent outperformers such as mining and healthcare stocks posting steep losses as investors booked profits after an impressive seven-day rally.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.8 per cent or 52.2 points at 6,232.8. The benchmark rose 0.7 per cent on Wednesday.

The index slipped from a near seven-month high scaled in the previous session, snapping its longest uninterrupted run of gains since October 2017.

"It does seems to be a bit of profit-taking on the basis that this a knee-jerk reaction out of the gates in trade today," said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG markets.

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Miners slipped 1 per cent, with mining behemoths BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd falling 1.2 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively.

Iron ore prices extended their red-hot rally on declining shipments from Brazil and Australia amid higher Chinese demand, however, investors sold off shares to book a neat profit after the mining sub-index's over 7-year closing high in the previous session.

The world's fourth-largest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group slipped 1 per cent, after a staggering near 20 per cent gain in the last seven sessions.

Healthcare stocks also tumbled, with index heavyweight CSL Ltd shedding 1.7 per cent, while Cochlear Ltd and Resmed Inc fell 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Financial stocks also felt the heat, with the top four banks falling between 0.2 and 0.8 per cent. National Australia Bank fell most among them.

Insurers were among top losers, with Suncorp Group Ltd tumbling 2.2 per cent and Insurance Australia Group Ltd shedding 1.8 per cent.

Energy stocks slid, with heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd falling 2.1 per cent, while Santos Ltd lost 2.5 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.47 per cent or 46.66 points to finish the session at 9,892.60.

Contact Energy Ltd was the top loser, slipping 2.7 per cent while Spark New Zealand Ltd dropped 1.6 per cent. 

REUTERS