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Australia: Shares lower as tech, healthcare sectors slip; New Zealand down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares declined on Tuesday, as technology and healthcare stocks followed Wall Street peers lower, outweighing gains in the energy sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.6 per cent to 6,608.80 at 0309 GMT. The benchmark ended 0.01 per cent higher on Monday.

Wall Street ended largely flat overnight, as investors pulled back from buying tech and healthcare shares.

Australian tech stocks tumbled about 3 per cent, with logistics software maker WiseTech Global dropping as much as 7.9 per cent, to a 1-1/2 week low, while consumer lender Afterpay Touch Group shed as much as 5%.

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Marc Kennis, principal of Pitt Street Research, said Australian tech stocks "have seen valuations recently that are uncommon in most other sectors. Investors may be taking some money off the table after the strong performances of some of the highest flying tech stocks."

The healthcare index was down 2.5 per cent to a two-week low. Heavyweight drugmaker CSL fell almost 3 per cent.

Miners were trending lower as copper prices slipped following as China reported a second month of production deflation, pointing to weakening demand for industrial goods. 

Gold stocks continued to fall as bolstered appetites for riskier assets dropped the precious metal's prices to a four-week low.

Diversified miner South32 fell 1.6 per cent, while gold miner OceanGold Corp dropped as much as 5.4 per cent to its lowest in over two weeks.

Australian graphite miner Syrah Resources said it would reduce production in October-December to about 5,000 tonnes per month, sending its stock down as much as 41.1 per cent to its lowest level since February 2012.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were boosted by a rise in oil prices amid optimism that Opec and other countries may agree to extend production cuts in a bid to support prices.

Major oil and gas players Santos and Oil Search both rose more than 3 per cent.

Shares of all of "Big Four" lenders were higher, contributing to the financial index's 0.2 per cent climb.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped nearly 1 per cent lower to 11,100.74, with Scales Corp and Contact Energy as top losers.

REUTERS