Australia shares expected to fall, NZ hits over 2-month high

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to fall on Wednesday, as soaring COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates in the country dampen investor sentiment, while robust commodity prices are expected to aid mining and energy stocks.

The local share price index futures fell 0.3%, a 78.8-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) close. The benchmark settled 2% higher on Tuesday, the strongest closing level since mid-August.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (.NZ50) rose 0.6% in early trading, hitting the highest since Oct. 26, 2021.

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Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru Editing by Chris Reese

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