MELBOURNE, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares firmed marginally in early trade on Thursday, supported by banks, while big resource stocks were mixed.
Global miner Rio Tinto rose 0.2 percent after it said it is cautiously optimistic about a pick-up in growth in China, its biggest customer. Rio said it is aiming to cut more than $5 billion of operating and support costs by the end of 2014.
Rival BHP Billiton, which holds its annual shareholder meeting later on Thursday, fell 0.2 percent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index nudged up 2.6 points to 4,449.0 by 2317 GMT. The index slipped 0.2 percent on Wednesday, but is up 2.6 percent from a mid-November low of 4,334.3.
New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index rose 6 points to 4,018.1.
U.S. stocks rose in volatile trade after comments from the top Republican in Congress on a possible compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff” turned the market around.
Copper eased though on concerns about the details of Greece’s new debt deal, while bullion prices fell 1.5 percent, the biggest one-day drop in nearly a month. (Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Richard Pullin)