April 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Monday, dragged down by heavyweight financials and gold stocks, as appetite for risk assets soured after Iran's retaliatory attack on Israel over the weekend raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

The S&P/ASX 200 index declined 0.5% to 7,748.80 by 1225 GMT, extending its losses to a third session amid concerns over sticky U.S. inflation and receding bets of early interest rate cuts.

Iran launched explosive drones and missiles at Israel late on Saturday in retaliation for a suspected Israeli attack on its consulate in Syria on April 1, a first direct attack on Israeli territory that has stoked fears of a wider regional conflict.

Resilient U.S. economic data, especially the hotter-than-expected March inflation reading, has forced investors to reset expectations of the timeline of rate cuts from the Federal Reserve this year.

In Sydney, rate-sensitive financials declined 0.9%, extending their decline to a fourth session. The "Big Four" banks were down between 0.5% and 1%.

Gold stocks inched 1.6% lower, heading for their worst session in more than three weeks. Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining retreated 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively.

Technology stocks tracked their Wall Street peers lower and were last down 1.5%. Block and Xero shed 2.7% and 1.7%, respectively.

Healthcare and real estate stocks lost 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively.

Mining and energy stocks advanced on strong underlying commodity prices, limiting the benchmark index's losses.

Mining giants BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue climbed 0.6%, 1.6% and 0.5%, respectively.

Oil and gas companies such as Woodside Energy and Santos gained between 0.2% and 0.4%, as oil prices were expected to rise after Iran's attack on Israel.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to 11,829.10.

(Reporting by Megha Rani in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)