March 4, 2014 / 5:25 AM / 3 years ago

Australia shares buck regional trend to end higher, buoyed by data

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, March 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.3 percent on Tuesday as upbeat building approvals data and gains in energy stocks helped to offset worries over the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia.

The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate steady at a record low of 2.5 percent on Tuesday, a widely expected decision given evidence past policy cuts were working to stimulate the economy as desired.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 15.9 points to 5,400.2, outperforming the region, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan trading flat.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent or 25.9 points to finish at 5,033.3, an all-time closing high, underpinned by an improving economy. The NZX 50 index has been edging higher for the better part of a year, continuing on a broadly positive trend. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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