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Australia: Stronger miners help lift bourse at close

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended slightly higher on Wednesday with the help of a firmer mining sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.05 per cent, or 3 points, to finish at 5,535.

Mining giant BHP Billiton added 3.2 per cent, while Rio Tinto rose 2.2 per cent.

Both stocks have underperformed the market in the past 12 months, but have managed to outperform the bourse for the year to date.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.6 per cent, or 44.35 points higher, to finish the session at 7,355.