Australian shares trade flat ahead of RBA policy meeting minutes

* Financials offset gains in miners

* Big Four banks fall between 0.9% and 1.3%

* NZ Q3 consumer confidence drops to lowest since 2008

Sept 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares traded largely flat on Tuesday as caution ahead of the release of minutes from the central bank’s September policy meeting offset hopes of more easing in coronavirus curbs in the state of Victoria.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose marginally to 5,902.9 by 0030 GMT, after gaining as much as 0.3% earlier.

Investors are now eyeing the Reserve Bank of Australia’s minutes from its Sept. 1 meeting for clues about its future course of action after Governor Philip Lowe had hinted at additional policy measures.

Meanwhile, Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria reported no deaths on Tuesday that raised hopes of a further easing of restrictions in the state, just a day after the state began gradual easing in its capital Melbourne.

Among shares and sectors, the mining index, heavily-reliant on exports to China, was the top boost to the index, helped by an overnight rise in Dalian iron ore futures.

Aiding sentiment was a likely increase in China’s industrial output in August for a fifth consecutive month, indicating a gradual recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

Global miners BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group advanced as much as 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively.

But a near 1% cut in heavyweight financial stocks capped the gains for the benchmark, with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp losing up to 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% to 11,816.48. It gained as much as 0.5% during the session.

Local shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp were up as much as 0.3% and 0.8%, respectively.

Meanwhile, a survey showed consumer confidence in New Zealand in the third quarter slipped to its lowest level seen 2008.

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V