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Australia shares edge up on miners rally, NZ slips

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed up slightly on Wednesday, recovering from losses earlier in the session after a late rally in mining stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session up 0.3 per cent, or 14.86 points, at 5,774.

The mining index rose one per cent for a third straight day of gains, led by BHP Billiton Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, which rose 1.5 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively.

Iron ore futures in China surged more than five per cent, after steel prices rose to a three-year high on hopes for strong demand.

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Real estate stocks also ended higher with GPT Group gaining 3.1 per cent and Viva Energy Reit Ltd closing five per cent higher.

Dairy company Bega Cheese Ltd climbed 4.5 per cent, hitting a 20-week closing high.

The financials index edged up 0.2 per cent as investors kept an eye on the US Federal Reserve, which is expected to announce a hike in interest rates later on Wednesday.

Five companies in the S&P/ASX 200 index posted 52-week highs, while three fell to one-year lows.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6 per cent, or 45.79 points, to finish the session at 7,131.3 points.

Materials, industrials and consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest drag on the index.

Building material supplier Fletcher Building Ltd fell 2.1 per cent to hit an eight-month closing low.

New Zealand Refining Company Ltd was the biggest loser on the index, sliding 4.6 per cent to a four-month low.