Tech, healthcare help Australia shares notch 2-week closing high


* Aussie tech stocks jump nearly 2%

* Mesoblast tumbles on bigger loss

* NZ extends gains to third session

Aug 31 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, driven by technology and healthcare stocks, although a sharp drop in biotech firm Mesoblast due to disappointing earnings kept a lid on gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.4% to end at 7,534.9, its highest close since Aug. 16.

Australian stocks took cues from solid current account data and an upbeat New York session overnight, Jeffrey Halley, a market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Australia's current account surplus rose to a record A$20.5 billion in the June quarter, due to booming prices for iron ore and robust demand from China.

"The current account is likely to bulge even more in Q3 as state-wide lockdowns erode consumer demand while exports remain robust," Halley said.

Tech stocks jumped nearly 2% after major U.S. stock indexes closed at record highs overnight as dovish comments from the Federal Reserve chairman on monetary stimulus tapering soothed investor nerves.

Appen and Wisetech Global were the top gainers on the tech index, rising more than 7% and 6%, respectively.

Biotech firm Mesoblast tumbled almost 15% and was the top drag, after it said its full-year loss widened. The company is still chasing regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its flagship product.

However, the healthcare sub-index gained 0.9%.

Energy stocks slumped 1.4%, tracking a downturn in oil prices on concerns about damage from Hurricane Ida. Heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Worley shed 2.6% and 3.5%, respectively.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index extended gains to a third session, rising 0.3% to 13,218.83, after new COVID-19 cases fell for a second day amid a tight lockdown. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)