Australia shares up 0.4 pct, BHP slide offset by financials

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:23am EDT

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY Aug 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed 0.4 percent higher on Wednesday as a rebound in the banking sector offset a mixed bag of earnings that kept buyers in check, with top miner BHP Billiton Ltd sliding after its profits undershot forecasts.

Investors were also awaiting the release of the U.S. Federal Reserve's minutes of its July meeting as they look for clues on when Fed plans to trim its massive stimulus.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 21.8 points to 5,100.0. The benchmark fell 0.7 percent on Tuesday. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index climbed almost 1.0 percent to 4,551.5.

New Zealand market leader Fletcher Building Ltd jumped 6.2 percent to a nearly four-month high, after reporting a 76 percent rise in annual profit on a recovery in its home market.

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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