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Australia: Shares steady near 1-month low, NZ shares hit new record

[MELBOURNE] Australian shares ended up 0.1 per cent on Wednesday, having earlier plumbed a one-month low, but recaptured the 5000-point marker as sentiment steadied following comments by the Federal Reserve chair.

Appetite revived for global riskier assets after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signalled a slower pace of rate increases this year, potentially keeping the cost of capital cheaper for longer.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose to 5010.3 points at the close of trade having earlier hit the weakest since March 2 at 4,989.90.

The benchmark had dropped 1.7 per cent on Tuesday when markets reopened after a long holiday weekend, but is on track to finish March ahead after two months of declines.

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New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed by 0.6 per cent or 37.8 points to finish the session at 6714.16, a record high.

NZ shares have hit records nearly every day in March as record low interest rates lured investors away from bank deposits and toward higher yielding stocks.