(Updates to close)
March 14 Australian shares barely changed in
lacklustre trade on Tuesday as gains for miners, pulled up by
rising metal prices, were effectively cancelled out by falls in
Financial stocks were lower ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve's
two-day meeting, starting later on Tuesday, which markets
believe will bring a hike in U.S. interest rates.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.03 percent, or 1.753
points, to 5,759.1 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell
0.32 percent in the previous session.
Two of the 'Big 4' banks lost 0.7 percent. However,
Commonwealth Bank of Australia was 0.2 percent higher
while Australia and New Zealand Bank ended flat.
Copper-iron ore miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto
and Fortescue Metals gained between 0.6
percent and 0.9 percent.
BHP Billiton snapped five straight losing sessions and
logged its best day since March 2.
Chinese steel and iron ore futures extended steep gains fron
the previous session, and London copper edged higher on Tuesday,
both supported by positive data from China.
Gold miners Newcrest Mining and St. Barbara
gained 0.14 percent and 5.3 percent respectively as
gold prices steadied in anticipation of the expected Fed rate
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.25
percent or 17.7 points to finish the session at 7,177.09.
Falls in industrial stocks Auckland International Airport
of nearly 1 percent and Air New Zealand of 2.2
percent dragged the index lower.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew; Editing by Richard Borsuk)