(Updates with stock moves, comments)
SYDNEY Aug 1 Australian shares rose 0.1 percent
on Thursday morning in choppy trade after the Federal Reserve
gave no hint of imminent stimulus tapering and as the HSBC
Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) offset better-than-expected
Chinese official manufacturing data.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 3.2 points to 5,055.2 by
0153 GMT. The local benchmark inched up on Wednesday,
underpinned by yield plays in banks.
The local market had little direction until it got some
momentum from the release of China's official PMI manufacturing
data, said Damien Boey, equity strategist at Credit Suisse in
Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd gained 1.0 percent,
and Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.4 percent, after China's
official purchasing managers' index (PMI) picked up slightly to
50.3, beating market expectations of a contraction to
"It's interesting to note that the share market started to
move in the lead-up to the China PMI. It was above market
expectation so we expect that to seep through to resource
companies," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at
CMC Markets in Sydney.
Metal prices also helped miners, with copper rising more
than 2 percent on Wednesday on upbeat economic data from the
United States, which boosted market sentiment.
But the optimism was soon offset by the HSBC figure, which
found that China's factory activity shrank for a third straight
month in July to its lowest level in nearly a year as new orders
fell. The HSBC index polls smaller privately-owned business
while the official PMI measures activity in big state-owned
Banks pulled back after their recent rally. Top lender
Commonwealth Bank of Australia retreated 0.9 percent
from a record high, while Westpac Banking Corp reversed
earlier gains and edged 0.1 percent lower.
Energy stocks continued to push up. Top energy producer
Woodside Petroleum Ltd jumped 2.1 percent, while
smaller player Origin Energy Ltd rose 1.1 percent.
"The oil price has been stabilising at high levels, and
gases are in demand now - it's good for stocks like Woodside,"
said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser at broker Longsec
Domestic consumer-related stocks traded higher. Top
supermarket chains Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd
both rose 0.8 percent.
Leading phone company Telstra Corp Ltd climbed 0.8
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.2
percent to 4,547.9.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Shares in Australian rural services company Elders Ltd
jumped 8.9 percent to A$0.09, after announcing it had
agreed to sell its automotive components supplier business for
* Packaging giant Amcor Ltd rose 2.7 percent to
A$10.88, after it said it would spin off its glass and beverage
packaging unit by the end of the year to focus on growth areas.
* Toll roads operator Transurban Group added 1.8
percent to A$6.90, after it said its net profit for the year
ending June 30 was A$174.5 million on a statutory basis, up 198
percent on the prior year.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Additional reporting by
Michael Sin; Editing by Eric Meijer)