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Australia shares clinch highest close in 14-months

Wednesday, 3 Oct 2012 | 2:29 AM ET

MELBOURNE, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged up to a 14-month closing high on Wednesday as banks and broader stocks were boosted by an interest rate cut and the local dollar weakened, enhancing export prospects.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

closed up 0.1 percent, or 5.6 points, at 4,438.6, its strongest finish since August 1, 2011.

The index had pushed up to 4,454.6 in morning trade, but was knocked lower after Australia's trade deficit blew out to its widest in three-and-a-half years on falling prices for iron ore and coal, hurting mining stocks.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

rose 0.5 percent to 3,889.6 points, its highest since January 2008.

(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Richard Pullin)

((miranda.maxwell@reuters.com)(Reuters

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Keywords: MARKETS AUSTRALIA STOCKS/