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Australia shares close at 14-month high

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares extended their gains by 0.3 percent on Thursday, hitting a 14-month high after banks offset losses in mining.

Investors remained optimistic about further interest rate cuts after data showed soft retail sales figures for August.

Australian retail sales edged up only marginally in August as weakness in household goods and clothing pointed to restraint in discretionary spending, adding to the case for further supportive cuts in interest rates.

Top banks continued this week's post rate-cut gains, led by Westpac Banking Corp

which jumped 1.6 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

rose 13.8 points to 4,452.4, its highest close since August 1, 2011, according to the latest data. The benchmark had hit a 14-month high of 4,454.6 on Wednesday.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

finished 0.2 percent or 7.6 points lower at 3,882.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

((thuy.ong@thomsonreuters.com)(+61 2 9373 1236))

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