(Updates to close)
March 15 (Reuters) - 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 percent, or 14.86 points, at 5,774.
The mining index rose 1 percent for a third straight day of gains, led by BHP Billiton Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, which rose 1.5 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.
Iron ore futures in China surged more than 5 percent, after steel prices rose to a three-year high on hopes for strong demand.
Real estate stocks also ended higher with GPT Group gaining 3.1 percent and Viva Energy Reit Ltd closing 5 percent higher.
Dairy company Bega Cheese Ltd climbed 4.5 percent, hitting a 20-week closing high.
The financials index edged up 0.2 percent as investors kept an eye on the U.S. 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 percent, 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 percent to hit an eight-month closing low.
New Zealand Refining Company Ltd was the biggest loser on the index, sliding 4.6 percent to a four-month low.
Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Randy Fabi