Australia shares extend rally on iron ore, Wall Street strength

April 8 (Reuters) - Positive cues from Wall Street overnight helped Australian shares extend their rally to a fifth day on Thursday, with robust iron ore prices further boosting heavyweight mining stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.4% at 6,953.2 points in early trade, having ended higher for the previous four sessions.

The S&P 500 and the Dow closed modestly higher after the U.S. Federal Reserve, in minutes of its latest meeting, reiterated its commitment to an accommodative stance until the economic rebound was more secure.

The mining sub-index added more than 1%, hitting its highest level in nearly a month.

Heavyweight iron ore miners were lifted after the commodity climbed nearly 2% on Wednesday as record steel prices in China prompted investors to make tentative bets.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd was up 2.4%, while BHP Group Ltd climbed 1.8%. Both stocks were among the top percentage gainers in the benchmark index.

ASX 200 Energy index rose 0.2%, led by Ampol Ltd that climbed 1.2%, as oil futures edged higher on improving economic outlook.

Technology and financial stocks climbed about 0.3% each.

In contrast, gold stocks were muted, as bullion prices fell on Wednesday a day after hitting their highest in more than one week.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.43% to 12,540.6.

Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips