Australia shares up 0.1 percent on mixed China PMIs
(Updates with stock moves, comments)
SYDNEY Aug 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.1 percent on Thursday morning in choppy trade after the Federal Reserve gave no hint of imminent stimulus tapering and as the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) offset better-than-expected Chinese official manufacturing data.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 3.2 points to 5,055.2 by 0153 GMT. The local benchmark inched up on Wednesday, underpinned by yield plays in banks.
The local market had little direction until it got some momentum from the release of China's official PMI manufacturing data, said Damien Boey, equity strategist at Credit Suisse in Sydney.
Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd gained 1.0 percent, and Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.4 percent, after China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) picked up slightly to 50.3, beating market expectations of a contraction to 49.9.
"It's interesting to note that the share market started to move in the lead-up to the China PMI. It was above market expectation so we expect that to seep through to resource companies," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Metal prices also helped miners, with copper rising more than 2 percent on Wednesday on upbeat economic data from the United States, which boosted market sentiment.
But the optimism was soon offset by the HSBC figure, which found that China's factory activity shrank for a third straight month in July to its lowest level in nearly a year as new orders fell. The HSBC index polls smaller privately-owned business while the official PMI measures activity in big state-owned enterprises.
Banks pulled back after their recent rally. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia retreated 0.9 percent from a record high, while Westpac Banking Corp reversed earlier gains and edged 0.1 percent lower.
Energy stocks continued to push up. Top energy producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd jumped 2.1 percent, while smaller player Origin Energy Ltd rose 1.1 percent.
"The oil price has been stabilising at high levels, and gases are in demand now - it's good for stocks like Woodside," said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser at broker Longsec in Melbourne.
Domestic consumer-related stocks traded higher. Top supermarket chains Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd both rose 0.8 percent.
Leading phone company Telstra Corp Ltd climbed 0.8 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.2 percent to 4,547.9.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Shares in Australian rural services company Elders Ltd jumped 8.9 percent to A$0.09, after announcing it had agreed to sell its automotive components supplier business for A$69 million.
* Packaging giant Amcor Ltd rose 2.7 percent to A$10.88, after it said it would spin off its glass and beverage packaging unit by the end of the year to focus on growth areas.
* Toll roads operator Transurban Group added 1.8 percent to A$6.90, after it said its net profit for the year ending June 30 was A$174.5 million on a statutory basis, up 198 percent on the prior year.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Additional reporting by Michael Sin; Editing by Eric Meijer)