* Investors take profit after 7-day winning streak
* Index down after hitting near 7-month high in previous session
* Miners, healthcare & energy stocks lose most (Updates to close)
April 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Thursday, with recent outperformers such as mining and healthcare stocks posting steep losses as investors booked profits after an impressive seven-day rally.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.8 percent or 52.2 points at 6,232.8. The benchmark rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday.
The index slipped from a near 7-month high scaled in the previous session, snapping its longest uninterrupted run of gains since October 2017.
“It does seems to be a bit of profit-taking on the basis that this a knee-jerk reaction out of the gates in trade today,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG markets.
Miners slipped 1 percent, with mining behemoths BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd falling 1.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Iron ore prices extended their red-hot rally on declining shipments from Brazil and Australia amid higher Chinese demand, however, investors sold off shares to book a neat profit after the mining sub-index’s over 7-year closing high in the previous session.
The world’s fourth largest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group slipped 1 percent, after a staggering near 20 percent gain in the last seven sessions.
Healthcare stocks also tumbled, with index heavyweight CSL Ltd shedding 1.7 percent, while Cochlear Ltd and Resmed Inc fell 2.2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
Financial stocks also felt the heat, with the top four banks falling between 0.2 and 0.8 percent. National Australia Bank fell most among them.
Insurers were among top losers, with Suncorp Group Ltd tumbling 2.2 percent and Insurance Australia Group Ltd shedding 1.8 percent.
Energy stocks slid, with heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd falling 2.1 percent, while Santos Ltd lost 2.5 percent.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.47 percent or 46.66 points to finish the session at 9,892.60.
Contact Energy Ltd was the top loser, slipping 2.7 percent while Spark New Zealand Ltd dropped 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil; Editing by Kim Coghill)