* Miners snap 4-week winning streak
* ASX 200 extends gains for third straight session
* Healthcare stocks hit a month high
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 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 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 boosted the
sector, along with a firmer U.S. dollar. The currency was set
for a second straight weekly gain.
Australian tech stocks followed suit, firming nearly
1% on strong cues from their Wall Street peers overnight.
Buy-now-pay-later juggernaut Afterpay gained 0.8%,
with Nuix Ltd, up 6%, leading the gains on the
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
Among other shares and sectors, energy firms 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
and Oil Search fell 2.2% each to be the top
losers in the sector.
Gold stocks dropped the most, losing 1.2%, as gold
prices dipped on U.S. dollar strength.
The country's miners snapped a four-week winning
streak to post a 1.4% weekly loss.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index 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