Australian shares ended lower on Thursday, led by declines in financial and technology stocks, following overnight Wall Street losses as renewed fears of aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate hikes sapped risk appetite.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.8% to close at 7175.9. The benchmark rose 0.3% on Wednesday.

Top laggard, technology sub-index slipped 2.5%, as investors took their cues from U.S. stocks that slipped on bleak job openings data for April, fuelling concerns of aggressive policy tightening by the Fed.

ASX-listed shares of Block, Xero and Wisetech Global lost between 2% and 6%.

Ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting next week, there is worry among investors that the central bank may be aggressive with interest rates, said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

"With the RBA being very much always fixated on what the Fed is doing, we might see a volatile week ahead for the Aussie market."

Banking stocks skidded 1.2%, their lowest since May 24, with all the so-called "Big Four" banks shedding between 0.6% and 1.5%.

Domestic healthcare stocks followed suit, shedding 1.8% with biotech firm CSL, one of Australia's largest companies by market value, also slipping over 1.8%.

Bucking the trend, energy stocks climbed 3.1%, with Woodside Energy gaining 5.2% on its first day of trade following the completion of its merger with BHP Group.

Lithium share prices that plunged on Wednesday seemed to have steadied, helping sentiment in resources, with miners IGO and Liontown Resources jumping 3.9% each.


Encouraging data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed trade surplus widened more than expected in April helped by rising exports of liquefied natural gas and a return of tourists.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.2% to 11349.5, snapping a three-day rally. (Reporting by Roushni Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)