SYDNEY, July 25 Australian shares may post modest gains on Thursday as a rise in metals prices is expected to buoy mining stocks, but overnight losses on Wall Street could hamper the market.
* Local share price index futures rose 0.1 percent but was still a 36.1-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index close. The benchmark rose 0.4 percent to end at a two-month closing high on Wednesday.
* New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent in early trade.
* U.S. stocks mostly retreated on Wednesday as losses in utility and commodity shares more than offset gains in the tech sector on Apple's solid earnings.
* Copper rose on Wednesday, the fifth session of modest gains, after upbeat economic data from the United States and the euro zone, but gains were capped by signs that China's economy is stalling.
* Iron ore prices edged back to a 2-1/2 month high as Chinese steel mills running low on inventories snapped up spot cargoes amid limited availability of high-grade material.
* McMillan Shakespeare Ltd said it expects to deliver a full year NPAT in the range of $61 million to $63 million. Shares in the finance group will begin trading again today after a one-week suspension after treasurer Chris Bowen announced changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax on novated vehicle leases.
* Macquarie Group Ltd, Australia's top investment bank, indicated it was on track to increase its full year net profit from its operating businesses, with a stronger performance from its funds business and a broadly flat performance from its fixed income, currencies and commodities group.
* OZ Minerals Ltd said its production during the quarter was more than 17,000 tonnes of copper and over 31,000 ounces of gold. The company said production for the year is expected to be weighted to the second half, with annual copper production and cost guidance unchanged.
----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2258 GMT ------------
INSTRUMENT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1685.94 -0.38% -6.450 USD/JPY 100.29 0.05% 0.050 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.5842 -- 0.000 SPOT GOLD 1317.94 -0.21% -2.750 US CRUDE 105.2 -0.18% -0.190 DOW JONES 15542.24 -0.16% -25.50 ASIA ADRS 141.79 -0.93% -1.33 -------------------------------------------------------------
* Dow, S&P dip; Apple's jump keeps NASDAQ barely in black * Oil falls on weak Chinese manufacturing data, profit taking * Gold drops 2 percent on improved economic outlook * Copper rises on US & Euro data, China a worry
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(Australia/New Zealand bureaux; +61 2 9373 1800/+64 4 471 4234)
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)