Australia shares seen down on Russia, dip in copper, gold prices

SYDNEY, March 27 Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:21pm EDT

SYDNEY, March 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to open lower on Thursday, following losses on Wall Street as investors fretted about tougher sanctions being implemented on Russia, while a dip in copper and gold prices may hurt resource stocks.

* Local share price index futures dropped 0.6 percent to 5,337, an 39.8-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close on Wednesday. The benchmark rose 0.8 percent in the last session.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent in early trade.

* U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, led by losses in the technology and materials sectors, as geopolitical concerns rose after the United States and the European Union agreed to work together on tougher sanctions on Russia.

* Copper retreated on Wednesday from the two-week high hit in the previous session, but the outlook for metals demand remained supported by prospects that China will stimulate its economy. Gold fell to near $1,300 an ounce.

* Spot iron ore rose more than 1 percent as Chinese buyers, encouraged by firmer steel prices, picked up cargoes and helped the raw material recover further from a sharp fall earlier this month.

* Rupert Murdoch has returned eldest Lachlan to the leadership of his media empire and promoted younger son James, paving the way for the 83-year-old tycoon to pass the reins to the family's next generation.

* Crown Resorts Ltd has released a statement saying Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd shareholders have approved a special dividend.

----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2212 GMT ------------

INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1852.56 -0.7% -13.060 USD/JPY 102.07 0.04% 0.040 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.6937 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1304.34 0.07% 0.850 US CRUDE 100.2 -0.06% -0.060 DOW JONES 16268.99 -0.60% -98.89 ASIA ADRS 138.90 -0.06% -0.08 -------------------------------------------------------------

* Russia sanctions worry hits Wall St; techs weigh * U.S. crude gains $1 to top $100/bbl on Cushing drawdown * Gold slips toward $1,300 on strong U.S. durable goods data * Copper falls after sharp gains, China stimulus hopes persist

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

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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