Australian shares inch higher on tech gains; U.S. inflation data eyed

June 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged higher on Thursday, helped by firmer technology and healthcare stocks, with the focus turning to U.S. inflation data due this week that could impact monetary policies globally.

The benchmark ASX 200 index rose 0.2% to 7,284.8 by 0041 GMT.

In other markets, Wall Street ended lower overnight, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.3%, and the S&P 500 E-minis futures were up or 0.1%.

Australia’s central bank said on Wednesday inflation is unlikely to meet its target range until 2024 at the earliest.

The easing in expectations of a sharp jump in inflation boosted technology stocks. Its sub-index rose 1.2%, with top gainer Altium Ltd gaining 2.7%. Index heavyweight Afterpay Ltd added 0.5%.

Healthcare stocks led the gains on the benchmark, rising 1.6% to their highest since December last year.

Biotech major CSL Ltd advanced about 1.6% to be one of the best performers on the sub-index.

The gold index gained 0.6% even as bullion prices were slightly lower. Gold miners Newscrest Mining and Nortern Star rose 0.4%-1%.

Capping gains, however, were energy stocks as they led losses on the benchmark by slipping 0.8%. The subindex as set for its worst session since May 31. Oil and gas producers Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd fell 0.6% and 1.4%, respectively.

Miners also eased, with majors Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals declining around 1% each.

Shipbuilder Austal Ltd lost 3.5% to be the worst performer on the bourse as regulator ASIC commenced civil penalty proceedings against it on failure of disclosures.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index traded up 0.2% to 12,584.8. (Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)