Australia shares seen inching up; metal prices, China slowdown may cap

SYDNEY, April 16 Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:23pm EDT

SYDNEY, April 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares look set to make slim gains on Wednesday morning after Wall Street managed a better session, though demand may be crimped by weaker metals prices and slower growth in China.

* Local share price index futures edged up 0.2 percent 5,386, a 2.2-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. Then benchmark rose 0.6 percent on Tuesday.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.4 percent to 5,096.9 in early trade.

* U.S. stocks ended a volatile session higher on Tuesday, driven by gains in such blue-chip names as Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson, though persistent weakness in momentum names limited the Nasdaq's advance.

* Base metals fell on Tuesday, led by nickel, as investors sold risky assets on worries about demand in top consumer China and on concern about tensions in Ukraine.

* Gold tumbled about 2 percent on Tuesday on heavy stop-loss orders placed by momentum traders as prices broke below the key 200-day moving average.

* Challenger Ltd said total group assets and funds under management at 31 March 2014 was A$49.5 billion, an increase of 21 percent for the 12 months and 1 percent for the quarter.

* BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group report third quarter production on Wednesday.

* China is expected to report its slowest growth in five years on Wednesday, a Reuters poll shows, with signs of waning strength in the first quarter of 2014 already prompting government action to steady the world's second-largest economy.

-----------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 22:59 GMT ------------------

INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,842.98 0.68% 12.370

USD/JPY 101.84 -0.07% -0.070

10-YR US TSY YLD 2.630 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD $1,302.41 0.03% 0.370 US CRUDE $103.85 0.10% 0.100 DOW JONES 16351.25 0.55% -67.43 ASIA ADRS 140.90 -0.67% -0.95 -------------------------------------------------------------

* Wall St ends higher as blue chips rally; Intel up late * Brent oil rises with Ukraine tension; capped by Libya output

* Gold Dives 2 pct on heavy stop-loss orders, technicals * Nickel falls from 14-month peak; China worry hits copper

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(Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 4234)

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)