Australia shares seen clawing higher ahead of holiday weekend

SYDNEY, April 24 Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:19pm EDT

SYDNEY, April 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to edge up from near six-year highs on Thursday, supported by an uptick in nickel prices, although investors may stay on the sidelines ahead of a holiday on Friday and as Wall Street eased overnight.

* Local share price index futures rose 0.4 percent to 5529.0, an 11.2-point premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday, backed by a lower inflation reading for the first quarter.

* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.3 percent in early trade.

* U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday to snap a six-session winning streak as gains in Boeing and Gilead were offset by slides in AT&T and the wider biotech sector.

* Nickel extended its rally on Wednesday to the highest level in more than 14 months on persistent worries of shortages, while some other metals dipped after data showed factory activity shrinking in top consumer China.

* Gold prices edged up, holding above a technical stronghold at $1,275 an ounce, although the metal is vulnerable to further losses as investor demand remains slack, analysts said.

* A Transurban-led consortium has agreed a A$7 billion ($6.6 billion) takeover of Queensland Motorways Ltd, Australia's biggest toll road owner said on Wednesday.

* Atlas Iron Ltd released its March 2014 quarterly report, maintaining its full year production guidance.

----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2257 GMT ------------

INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1875.39 -0.22% -4.160 USD/JPY 102.48 -0.05% -0.050 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.6932 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1283.2 -0.01% -0.090 US CRUDE 101.53 0.09% 0.090 DOW JONES 16501.65 -0.08% -12.72 ASIA ADRS 141.91 -0.34% -0.49 -------------------------------------------------------------

* Wall St snaps six-day run; Apple to split stock * Oil futures slip on record U.S. oil inventories * Gold up slightly, holding above key support after U.S. data * Nickel extends rally to new 14-month high on supply worry

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(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)