* Aussie shares trading higher on Wall Street
* Investors to eye Chinese manufacturing data due at 0145
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, May 22 Australian shares rose
0.7 percent on Thursday, buoyed by gains on Wall Street and an
uptick among local banks, while investors awaited a Chinese
manufacturing survey later in the day for clues about growth in
Australia's largest export market.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 40.5 points to 5,465.1
by 0115 GMT, outperforming MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan, which was up 0.4 percent.
All 'Big Four' banks rose, with top lender Commonwealth Bank
of Australia adding 0.5 percent.
Overnight, spot iron ore prices fell for a fourth straight
day to a 20-month low, pressured by weak buying interest from
china, the world's top consumer of the steelmaking raw material.
Meanwhile heavyweight miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP
Billiton Ltd added 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent each,
recovering modestly after being sold off over the past week.
Investors will also eye the Chinese HSBC flash manufacturing PMI
for May due at 0145 GMT.
"If the PMI number is outside of expectations significantly
it will affect the big three, Rio, BHP, Fortescue", said Shawn
Hickman, managing director at Market Matters
"The market is a bit 50/50, so we just want to see it play
its hand, the whole region is up around 0.4 percent, there's not
a great deal at the moment."
Energy stocks also rose, underpinned by U.S. oil reaching a
one-month high overnight. Woodside Petroleum Ltd
climbed 2 percent, while Santos Ltd added 1.1 percent.
Australia's benchmark index has been drifting sideways in
May, pulled down by top-tier banking stocks with investors
booking profits as shares have reached record highs, but
underpinned by robust earnings.
Worries over geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and slumping
iron ore prices have also dampened investor appetite.
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.
Treasury Wine Estates Ltd dropped 1.2 percent. The
stock had gained some 24 percent in the previous two sessions
after it rejected a $2.9 billion bid from Kohlberg Kravis
Roberts & CO LP, spurring talks of offers from other parties.
James Hardie Industries PLC jumped 2.8 percent
after the home building products manufacturing announced its
fourth quarter net sales were higher at A$376.4 million while
also ananouncing a special dividend of $0.20 per security.
Caltex Australia gained 2.3 percent after receiving
confirmation from the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC), who will not oppose its acquisition of the
fuel division of Scotts Group.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.4
percent to 5,130.25, as gains in transport company Freightways
and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare helped the index to
recover from a one-month low hit on Wednesday.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is expected to announce an
increase in full-year profits when it posts results on Friday,
after the medical equipment maker raised its profit forecast to
NZ$97 million ($82.97 million) earlier this year.
Shares in telecommunications network operations Chorus Ltd
tumbled roughly 4 percent after the industry regulator
said it would delay a final decision on broadband pricing.
"(The delay) pushes out the time frame of the pricing issue
possibly being resolved. It has added uncertainty ... and that
would be seen as negative," said Michael Milne, investment
advisor at Craigs Investment Partners.
But Milne added that the delay would give the company the
opportunity to offer more input into the pricing process, which
could be beneficial in the longer term.
Investors awaited full-year results from online accounting
software developer Xero later in the day for more hints
into the fast-growing company's performance in the United
States, where it has been expanding aggressively.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Kim Coghill)