Australia shares seen easing on lingering cautions about Crimea, China

SYDNEY, March 24 Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:14pm EDT

SYDNEY, March 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set for a subdued start on Monday, as investors are likely to book some profits after a rebound in the previous session on continuing caution about Crimea tensions and China's economy.

* Local share price index futures were down 0.4 percent at 5,307, a 31.1-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close on Friday. The benchmark bounced 0.8 percent in the last session.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.2 percent to 5,134.3 in early trade.

* U.S. stocks slipped on Friday, as investors booked profits in momentum names heading into the weekend, wiping out early gains that had pushed the S&P 500 to an intraday record high.

* Copper edged higher on the week after falling more than 4 percent last week as worries abated on Friday about credit conditions and the economy in China.

* Leighton Holdings Ltd said its HLG joint venture was awarded a $1.7 billion new orbital highway project in Qatar.

* Sino Gas & Energy Holdings Ltd said its managing director and CEO Robert Bearden had decided to retire from his position.

----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2209 GMT ------------

INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1866.52 -0.29% -5.490 USD/JPY 102.24 0% 0.000 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.7444 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1334.05 -0.03% -0.440 US CRUDE 99.28 -0.18% -0.180 DOW JONES 16302.77 -0.17% -28.28 ASIA ADRS 137.79 0.02% 0.03 -------------------------------------------------------------

* Wall St ends lower as biotechs fall; indexes up for week * Crude oil futures rise on fears over sanctions against Russia * Gold up yet posts big weekly drop on Fed worries * Copper up as worries about China's economy retreat

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(Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 4234)

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