Australia shares close at highest in 5-1/2 years, NZ at new high

Wed Mar 5, 2014 12:29am EST

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, March 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained 0.9 percent on Wednesday to close at their highest point since June 2008, spurred by upbeat fourth quarter GDP figures and signs a military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine might be averted.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 46 points to finish the session 5,446.2, its highest point in 5-1/2 years. The benchmark added 0.3 percent on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, HSBC/Markit's China Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) ticked up to 51.0 in February from a 2-1/2 year low the previous month of 50.7, confirming a pick-up in services even as manufacturing slows.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.8 percent or 39.8 points to finish at another all-time closing high of 5,073.1, underpinned by an strong economy. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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