(Updates to close)
Oct 4 - Australian shares pared some of their early losses to close marginally higher, hurt by financials after the Reserve Bank of Australia held its cash rate at a record low of 1.5 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index nudged up 0.1 percent or 5.4 points to 5,484 at the close of trade.
Investor sentiment took a hit after stronger-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data for September bolstered expectations of a December interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
Shares in three of the “Big Four” banks in Australia weakened, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group ended 0.3 percent up.
Plumbing solutions provider Reliance Worldwide was the biggest loser on the S&P/ASX 200 index, slackening to a three week low following research-firm Deutsche Bank’s price target downgrade.
Dacian Gold was among the biggest losers on the metals index, falling as much as 6.6 percent, tracking a slip in gold prices that fell to a two-week low.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index eased 0.27 percent or 20.03 points to finish the session at 7,352.5, with utilities underperforming the sector.
Electricity and gas distributor Vector Ltd lost 2.7 percent, falling for a fifth trading day out of six.
Exchange operator NZX Ltd shed 2 percent after its CEO announced decision to step down at the end of the year. (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)