(Updates to close)
SYDNEY Feb 20 Australian shares pared early
gains to end 0.1 percent higher on Thursday as strong company
earnings were offset by a survey showing activity in China's
factories shrank again in February as employment fell at the
fastest pace in five years.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 4.1 points to 5,412.3
after hitting an intraday high of 5,441.5. The benchmark rose
0.3 percent on Wednesday and is currently sitting at three-month
The flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell
to a seven-month low of 48.3 in February from January's final
reading of 49.5, a preliminary private survey showed on
China is Australia's largest export market.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1
percent to 4,909.8.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Borsuk)