Australia shares at highest close since May 2011
(Updates to market close) MELBOURNE, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.2 percent on Wednesday, enough to secure the highest close in almost 21 months as miner BHP Billiton gained after reporting a rise in quarterly iron ore production. The market barely flinched as data showed Australian consumer price inflation was unexpectedly benign last quarter due to falls in food, electronics and drugs. The local dollar eased slightly as the data slightly improved chances for an interest rate cut next month. Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 9 points to 4,787.8, according to the latest data, the best since May 2 2011. New Zealand's NZX 50 index rose less than a point to 4,187.7. Top miner BHP rose 1.3 percent to A$37.06 after it reported a 3 percent rise in iron ore production in the December quarter. (Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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