June 1, 2017 / 6:59 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares rise even though Wesfarmers sinks; NZ up

(Updates to close)

June 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Thursday after a rise in healthcare and utility stocks outweighed declines in commodity-driven and consumer stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 percent to 5,738.10.

Healthcare and utilities stocks posted solid gains, tracking the performance of their U.S. peers.

The biggest Australian healthcare firms, CSL Ltd and Resmed Inc, added 1.6 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. Both have substantial U.S. operations.

AGL Energy and APA Group led utilities, posting gains of 2.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Miners Rio Tinto and BHP, which fell 1.7 percent and 0.7 percent respectively, contributed to much of the benchmark’s losses.

But Thursday’s biggest blow came from retailing major Wesfarmers, which plunged 3.1 percent to its lowest since early-February. It fell after a Morgan Stanley downgrade.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.4 percent, or 32 points, higher at 7450.90.

Telcos and industrials drove up the benchmark, with Spark New Zealand and Air New Zealand up nearly 2 percent and 5.2 percent respectively. (Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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