Australian shares seen firm as Russia/Ukraine fears ease

Tue Mar 4, 2014 4:55pm EST

Australian shares are set for a strong start on Wednesday,
boosted by a rally on Wall Street as fears eased of a
confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.
    Attention will focus on China's National People's Congress,
which is expected to announce its economic growth target for
2014 as well as its fiscal budget for the year ahead.
    Locally, GDP data will be released at 0030 GMT, with below
trend growth expected as the mining sectors cools off.
    * Local share price index futures were up 43 points
to 5,448, a 47.8 point premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200
index close. The benchmark rose 15.9 points to 5,400.23
on Tuesday.
    * New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 22.7
points to 5,055.98 in early trade.
    * U.S. stocks rallied, with the S&P 500 closing up 1.5
percent at a record high after comments from Russian President
Vladimir Putin about using force in Ukraine only as a last
resort soothed concerns that tensions there could lead to war.
    * Crude oil fell nearly 2 percent as geopolitical tensions
----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2132 GMT ------------
                    INSTRUMENT   LAST       PCT CHG   NET CHG
S&P 500                   1873.91      1.53%    28.180
USD/JPY                   102.24        0.8%     0.810
10-YR US TSY YLD     2.7031          --     0.095
SPOT GOLD                 1334.37     -1.18%   -15.920
US CRUDE                  103.39      -1.46%    -1.530
DOW JONES                 16395.88     1.41%    227.85
ASIA ADRS                144.51       1.55%      2.21
  * S&P500 ends at record; Ukraine-Russia Tensions ease 
  * Oil falls nearly 2 percent as Russia-Ukraine fears ease     
  * Gold falls 1 percent as Ukraine Tensions ease               
  * Copper rises to near 1-week high as Ukraine tensions ease   
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 (Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 

 (Editing by Kevin Liffey)