* Nearmap, CSL prop up benchmark
* Gold stocks gain on safe-haven buying
* Financials dragged lower by NAB trading ex-dividend (Updates to close)
By Nikhil Subba
Nov 14 (Reuters) - Technology and healthcare firms helped the Australian benchmark advance on Thursday, though gains were capped on rising doubts that Washington and Beijing can reach a trade deal soon.
The S&P/ASX 200 index inched 0.4% higher to 6,723.10 at the close of trade, recouping losses from the previous session where the index fell 0.8%.
A Wall Street Journal report suggesting that U.S.-China trade negotiations have ‘hit a snag’ over farm purchases unnerved markets on Wednesday and raised concerns a “phase one” trade deal between the economic powers could be delayed.
“Risk-off sentiment continues to linger seemingly on the lack of good news on trade talks with China. At this stage, even date and a location for the trade deal would be a good thing,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note to clients.
Australian healthcare stocks, seen as defensive plays, ended the session about 1% higher, with heavyweights CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd advancing about 1% each.
Technology stocks firmed 1.6% to end at a more than two-month high, invigorated by strong gains among certain major stocks.
Afterpay Touch Group soared 7.5%, extending its gains after announcing a A$200 million ($137.10 million)subscription by U.S. based Coatue Management LLC and a 110% rise in global underlying sales for four months ended Oct. 31.
The tech sub-sector also received a boost from Nearmap Ltd’s 14% rise, following an upbeat outlook for 2020.
Mining stocks erased earlier losses to finish the session 0.4% higher, helped largely by gold miners.
Gold stocks rose 1.6% as bullion prices increased on safe haven buying, following Sino-U.S. trade uncertainty and weak industrial output numbers from China earlier in the day.
China’s industrial production rose 4.7% year-on-year in October, data from the statistics bureau showed, below the median forecast of 5.4% growth in a Reuters poll.
Bucking the trend, financial stocks shed 0.05% with lender National Australia Bank contributing most of the losses with a 3.3% fall as the stock traded ex-dividend.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6% or 63.82 points higher to end the session at 10,899.25.
Shares of Mainfreight and Port of Taurang each ended around 3% higher, both being top gainers on the New Zealand benchmark index.
$1 = 1.4588 Australian dollars Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong