Australia shares reverse early losses to end higher, BHP slumps

Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:19am EDT

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SYDNEY Aug 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares reversed early losses on Wednesday to edge higher as investors dumped shares of BHP Billiton after the global miner missed earnings expectations, though an upbeat finish on Wall Street helped boost the market.

BHP Billiton Ltd lost 3.9 percent, its biggest one-day percentage drop since March 10, as investors remained wary of the company's plans to spin off businesses worth an estimated $16 billion.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 10.8 points to 5,634.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.7 percent on Tuesday, its fourth consecutive session of gains.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.5 percent or 26.1 points to 5,140.3. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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