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Australia shares end lower as tech, health care stocks slump

* Tech stocks end 2.5% down, hit lowest in nearly 3 weeks

* Bingo Industries top gainer on ASX on Macquarie deal

April 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on Tuesday as investors consolidated positions ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting and awaited cues from a big earnings week in the U.S.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.17% to close trade at 7,033.8 points, with advances in major miners cushioning the impact of losses in tech and healthcare sectors.

Many investors stuck to the sidelines ahead of a Fed monetary policy meeting ending Wednesday, where the U.S. central bank is expected to confirm it will maintain its easy monetary policy to bolster the economy.

“While no major policy changes are expected in the Fed’s meeting, investors will pay close attention to comments from Chairman Jerome Powell,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

“Investors are also on the fence ahead of the release of Australia’s consumer price index for the first quarter later in the week while also biding time to see how the busiest week of the U.S. earnings plays out.”

Local tech stocks snubbed the tech-heavy Nasdaq’s market-leading overnight role, falling 2.5% to hit their lowest since April 7. Buy-now-pay-later darling Afterpay Ltd fell 5.5%, followed by Xero Ltd, losing 2.2%.

The healthcare index ended 0.8% lower, tracking a weak dollar which hovered near multi-week lows. Pharmaceutical firm Mesoblast sank 7.2% to lead losses on the sub-index.

In contrast, miners extended gains from Monday and continued to push ahead, edging 0.9% higher after copper prices hit a decade high overnight and Chinese steel futures closed at record peaks on Monday.

Tesla-supplier Piedmont Lithium rose as much as 8% to be the top performer on the sub-index, while heavyweights - BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue - gained between 1.1% and 1.6%.

Waste manager Bingo Industries was the top percentage gainer on the local bourse, up 6.7%, after the firm agreed to be bought by Macquarie Group for A$2.3 billion ($1.79 billion). Bingo shares were also the most heavily traded by volume.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.24% to 12,620.5. The top percentage losers were A2 Milk Company Ltd, down 3.8%, and Fletcher Building Ltd, losing 1.5%.

$1 = 1.2827 Australian dollars Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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