Australian shares ended flat on Thursday as losses in heavyweight financials countered gains in mining and energy stocks, with the focus on the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes that showed concerns about cutting rates too soon.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark index closed largely flat at 7,611.20 points. It fell 0.7% on Wednesday.

The minutes from the Fed's Jan. 30-31 meeting indicated that it was in no hurry to cut rates, although Fed officials remained certain that policy rates could be lowered later this year.

"Investors may have to wait several more months to see the first rate cut from the Fed," Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade said.

Back in Sydney, heavyweight financials dropped 0.2%. The "big four" banks lost between 0.1% and 0.4%.

"Financial stocks are still feeling the ill effects, to a degree, from the hawkish RBA Minutes from Tuesday," Waterer added.

Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) last policy meeting showed that the central bank had considered hiking rates by another quarter-point, but decided to hold steady.

Miners edged 0.1% higher, with iron ore major Fortescue adding 2.1% after its half-year profit beat estimates and it declared a better-than-expected dividend.

Behemoths BHP Group and Rio Tinto, however, shed 0.4% and 1.1% respectively.

Healthcare stocks gained 0.3% with biotech giant CSL climbing 0.3%.

Energy stocks snapped a three-day losing streak to gain 0.5%, with sector major Woodside Energy gaining 0.8%.

Among company news, CSR soared to a near 18-year high after the building products maker confirmed a A$4.30 bln ($2.82 bln) takeover offer from France's Saint-Gobain.

Meanwhile, Qantas plunged 6.8% in its worst session in one year after reporting lower half-year profit.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.9% to 11,696.55 points. ($1 = 1.5270 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sneha Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman )