(Updates to close)
SYDNEY, July 29 Australian shares clawed 0.2 percent higher in afternoon trade on Tuesday after banks gained ground, though investors stayed mostly to the sidelines as a slump in QBE Insurance tugged at the market.
QBE Insurance Group Ltd slumped 11.1 percent to a 7-month low of A$10.57 after Australia's biggest insurer by premium income warned its first-half results would likely fall short of analysts' forecasts.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 11 points to 5,588.4, a six-year closing high. The benchmark slipped 0.1 percent on Monday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.4 percent or 21.6 points to finish the session at 5,165.6. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)