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Australia shares flat as tech stocks track Wall Street lower

* Energy stocks rise as oil prices climb

* Healthcare stocks benefit from weaker Aussie dollar

* Cboe Global Markets buys ASX competitor Chi-X Australia

March 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares traded flat early Thursday, as gains in the energy and healthcare sectors were offset by losses among technology stocks that tracked their Wall Street peers lower.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was flat at 6,778.8, as of 2323 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.5% higher on Wednesday.

The three main U.S. indexes fell in overnight trade as optimism about the economic recovery by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was unable to halt a decline in technology shares for a second straight day.

Nikkei futures were up 0.04%, S&P 500 E-minis futures rose 0.14% and the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.6137%.

Energy stocks rose 0.9% as oil prices jumped after a ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, potentially tying up global crude shipments.

Gas explorers Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Santos Ltd advanced 1.3% and 2.4%, respectively.

Export-reliant healthcare stocks extended gains as the Australian dollar weakened. A weaker local currency helps earnings of companies earning in U.S. dollars.

Drug developer CSL Ltd and diagnostic services provider Sonic Healthcare gained 0.4% and 1.9%, respectively.

Australian tech stocks dropped 1.4%, with buy-now-pay-later co Afterpay and artificial intelligence developer Appen falling 2.9% and 1.9%, respectively.

The mining sub-index was trading slightly lower, with global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto losing 0.7% and 0.9%, respectively.

Meanwhile, exchange operator Cboe Global Markets Inc said on Thursday it would acquire the operator of Chi-X Australia, the country’s second-largest securities exchange and the only competitor to ASX Ltd.

Shares of ASX Ltd fell as much as 1.6% in early trade.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.3%, helped by gains among industrial and tech stocks.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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