(Updates to open)
SYDNEY, March 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.5 percent in early trade on Thursday after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed its commitment to easing policy, bolstering investor sentiment, but caution on Cyprus and uncertain demand in China capped gains.
Financial stocks led gains, with Westpac Banking Corp climbing 1 percent to be the best performing of the major banks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 24.7 points higher to 4,992.7 by 2317 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.4 percent on Wednesday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was trading flat at 4,351.1 points. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)