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Tech rally, upbeat job data help Australia shares extend gains

May 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares extended gains on Friday, as investors lapped up risky assets following upbeat employment data, while local technology stocks tracked a rebound in Wall Street on signs of a pick-up in U.S. job growth this month.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.31% at 7,041.3 points by 0027 GMT. The benchmark, which traded flat so far this week, delivered its best day in nearly two weeks on Thursday.

Wall Street snapped three straight sessions of losses, helped by technology stocks as the smallest weekly jobless claims since the start of a pandemic-driven recession boosted sentiment.

Aussie tech stocks tracked a rally on the tech-heavy Nasdaq to jump nearly 4% to their highest in more than a week.

Payments solution provider EML Payments Ltd led the gains, jumping 10.31%, followed by sub-index heavyweight Afterpay Ltd climbing 4.7%.

Aussie health stocks jumped up to 2.1% to hit their highest in three months.

Index heavyweight CSL Ltd advanced as much as 2.1% to a three-month high, while Fisher and Paykel gained 3.2%.

Gains, however, were curbed by a 1.4% drop in the Australian mining index as iron ore slumped on China’s efforts to regulate the commodity markets. The mining index was headed for its worst week since mid-March.

Sector heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto plunged as much as 1.95% and 2.2%, respectively.

Kogan.com fell the most on the benchmark, skidding 12.41% after the online retailer slashed its profit forecast, citing issues with supply chain and inventory amid higher warehousing costs.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7% to 12,521.3.

In other markets, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.97% at 28369.73, and the S&P 500 E-minis futures climbed 11 points, or 0.26% (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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