* S&P/ASX200 trading up 0.2 pct at near 6-year high
* Resources sector buoys market on rise in nickel prices
* Gains capped by some stocks trading ex-dividend
* Markets closed Friday for Anzac Day
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong
SYDNEY, April 24 Australian shares inched higher
on Thursday to a near six-year high, underpinned by the
resources sector, though gains were capped as many investors
kept to the sidelines ahead of a holiday on Friday and after
Wall Street eased overnight.
Index heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto
Ltd edged ahead as nickel prices jumped to their
highest in more than 14 months.
Atlas Iron Ltd jumped 3.7 percent after the company
maintained its full-year production guidance in its quarterly
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.2 percent or 10.3
points at 5,528.1 by 0116 GMT, at its highest point since June
2008. The benchmark rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday after
unexpectedly low inflation data lessened the pressure for a hike
in interest rates this year.
The benchmark is on track to gain 1.4 percent for the week,
its sixth straight week of gains and its longest streak since
August 2013. Markets will be closed on Friday for the Anzac Day
"Lured by the magnetic pull of bullish momentum in global
equities, local investors have succumbed to temptation and
joined the party," Niall King, sales trader at CMC Markets, said
in a note to clients.
"Generally positive corporate earnings have been the primary
catalyst," King added.
Banks were mixed after a strong run this week. Westpac
Banking Corp was down 0.1 percent after touching an
all-time high earlier in the session, while Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group added 0.1 percent, hovering near
a record high.
Resmed Inc climbed 3.5 percent to a three-month
high after the developer of products for diagnosis and treatment
of sleep-disordered breathing reported a rise in third-quarter
But a number of stocks trading ex-dividend trumped moves
higher. Bank of Queensland Ltd lost 2.8 percent, its
biggest one-day percentage drop since Jan. 14, while consumer
retail staple Woolworths Ltd shed 1.1 percent.
QRxPharma Ltd dived 14.3 percent, extending the
previous session's 80 percent slump, after the company failed to
get regulatory approval for its painkiller drug Moxduo in the
United States. Its shares were at an all-time
low of A$0.12.
Elsewhere, a consortium led by Transurban Group,
whose shares were in a trading halt, has won a bid to buy toll
firm Queensland Motorways Ltd for $6.6 billion in its first
foray into the country's third-most populous state.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.2
percent or 8 points to 5,150.9.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)