Australia shares close higher, up 0.8 pct for quarter

Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:16am EDT

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, March 31 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.5 percent on Monday supported by data showing a rise in credit, and market expectations of stimulus steps in China, the country's largest export market.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 27.9 points to 5,394.8 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.3 percent on Friday, and is up 0.8 percent for the first quarter of 2014.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1 percent or 2.9 points to finish the session at 5,140.0. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)