Australia shares seen slipping from 5-1/2 year highs, investors eye retail & trade data

Wed Mar 5, 2014 4:52pm EST

SYDNEY, March 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to
slip in early trade on Thursday as Wall Street ended little
changed overnight. Investors may remain cautious ahead of key
data due out later in the day and as developments unfold in
Ukraine.
    * Local share price index futures fell 0.2 percent,
a 5.2-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index 
close. The benchmark gained 0.9 percent on Wednesday to close at
the highest point since June 2008. 
    * New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged 0.1
percent higher in early trade. 
    * U.S. stocks closed little changed on Wednesday as
investors shrugged off soft data on jobs and the services sector
while keeping an eye on developments in Ukraine. 
    * Nickel climbed to a nine-month high on persistent worries
about an Indonesian ban on ore exports and after China's leaders
affirmed a solid growth target for the year ahead. Gold edged
higher. 
    * Rio Tinto Ltd  announced changes to its
board, saying Anne Lauvergeon and Simon Thompson will join as
non-executive directors, while Vivienne Cox will retire as a
non-executive director on April 15. 
    * Australian retail sales and trade balance data will be
released at 0030 GMT.
    * The Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens will
hold his twice yearly testimony before the House of
Representatives' Standing Committee on Economics. 
----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2139 GMT ------------
                    INSTRUMENT   LAST       PCT CHG   NET CHG
S&P 500                   1873.81     -0.01%    -0.100
USD/JPY                   102.31       0.11%     0.110
10-YR US TSY YLD     2.703           --     0.013
SPOT GOLD                 1336.69      0.16%     2.190
US CRUDE                  100.91      -2.34%    -2.420
DOW JONES                 16360.18    -0.22%    -35.70
ASIA ADRS                144.00      -0.35%     -0.51
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  * Wall St endsd little changed; eyes on Ukraine          
  * US oil falls $2 after Fed says economy slowed         
  * Gold rises after weak US data; supply worry lifts
platinum 
  * Nickel hits nine-month peak on Indonesia ban worries 
    
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newspapers, double click on    
        
 (Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 
4234)

 (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)