Australian shares inch up, Westpac leads

SYDNEY Sun Nov 4, 2012 6:22pm EST

SYDNEY Nov 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched up 0.1 percent, led by Westpac and miners, as signs of an improving U.S. jobs market and expectations of a local rate cut bolstered investor sentiment.

Bellwether miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

Westpac helped lead the index higher, jumping 1.1 percent after it announced a 9 percent rise in second-half cash profit, beating expectations.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 2.4 points to 4,462.4 by 2316 GMT. The benchmark edged up 0.1 percent on Friday.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.3 percent or 12.3 points to 3,901.8. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)