Australia shares to edge higher, investors eye Chinese PMI

SYDNEY Wed May 21, 2014 7:22pm EDT

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SYDNEY May 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set edge up on Thursday, buoyed by gains on Wall Street, with eyes on Chinese manufacturing data due later in the day amid sagging prices for iron ore and worries about growth.

* Local share price index futures rose 0.4 percent, a 34.4-point premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark added 0.1 percent on Wednesday.

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

* U.S. stocks rose overnight, rebounding from the previous day's broad selloff, after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last meeting showed central bankers have discussed the eventual tightening of monetary policy but made no decisions on which tools to use.

* Spot iron ore prices fell for a fourth straight day to a twenty-month low, pressured by lean buying interest from China, the world's top consumer of the steelmaking raw material.

* Nickel fell as investors cashed in on gains after the price reached a 27-month peak last week, while copper also slipped.

* BHP Billiton said it may seek government intervention to avert industrial action by tugboat workers at the Port Hedland iron ore port that threatens to disrupt hundreds of millions of dollars in exports.

* James Hardie Industries PLC posted fourth quarter net sales of A$376.4 million, up from A$326.8 million, while its net operating loss rose to A$186.8 million.

* Investors will watch the China HSBC manufacturing PMI for May which is due out later in the day.

----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2255 GMT ------------

INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1888.03 0.81% 15.200 USD/JPY 101.44 0.09% 0.090 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.5338 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1292.06 0.05% 0.660 US CRUDE 103.8 -0.26% -0.270 DOW JONES 16533.06 0.97% 158.75 ASIA ADRS 142.84 0.79% 1.13 -------------------------------------------------------------

* Wall St ends higher after Fed minutes; Dow's best day in a month * U.S. oil hits two-month high on inventory drop * Gold stays lower after Fed; platinum group metals rise * Nickel, copper fall following recent gains

For a digest of the day's business stories in Australian newspapers, double click on (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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