MELBOURNE: Australian shares may rally beyond 17-month highs on Wednesday after US stocks, oil and base metal prices all rose on signs of progress in talks to avoid the U.S. "fiscal cliff".
* The stock index futures rose 0.6 percent to 4,631, a 35.8-point premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index. The benchmark climbed 0.5 percent on Tuesday to 4,595.2.
* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent to 4,002.5 in early trade.
* US stocks rallied on strong volume on Tuesday, capping off the S&P 500's best two-day run in a month, on confidence that a deal would be struck in Washington to avoid painful spending cuts and tax hikes that could hurt the economy.
* Copper consolidated gains as progress in the US budget negotiations eased fears the world's biggest economy could tip into recession.
* New Zealand's annual current account deficit narrowed slightly in the third quarter as trade surplus shrank but foreign investors earned less from local investments, data showed.
* Investors await comment from surfwear company Billabong International after it put its shares in a trading halt on Monday ahead of a possible takeover bid for the company, the latest development in a tumultuous year in which three previous takeover offers failed.
Copyright Reuters, 2012