Australia shares up 0.7 pct at 3-week high

MELBOURNE Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:17am EST

MELBOURNE Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.7 percent to a three-week high on Thursday, supported by banks and gains in global miner Rio Tinto after it gave an upbeat outlook on China and cost-cutting pledges.

Rio rose 0.9 percent after it said it was cautiously optimistic about a pick-up in growth in China, its biggest customer. Rio said it was aiming to cut more than $5 billion of operating and support costs by the end of 2014.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 30 points to 4,477.7, according to the latest data, the highest close since Nov 8. The index slipped 0.2 percent on Wednesday, but is up from a mid-November low of 4,334.3.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent to 4,016.8 points. (Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Kim Coghill)