* Shares tick 0.2 pct higher, banks lead, gold miners slip
* 116 stocks trading higher, 65 lower, 19 unchanged
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 24 Australian shares
added 0.2 percent on Thursday, extending a six-year high, as
Wall Street climbed and sentiment was boosted by a preliminary
Chinese manufacturing index rising at its fastest pace in 18
Banks propped up the local market with Commonwealth Bank of
Australia and National Australia Bank adding
0.4 percent and 0.2 percent each.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 8.2 points to 5,584.9 by
0222 GMT, its highest since June 2008. The benchmark added 0.6
percent on Wednesday.
The index has been underpinned by signs that the economy in
China, Australia's largest export market, is regaining momentum,
while a robust earnings season in the United States has also
lifted investor sentiment.
"It's just drifting higher in front of reporting season,
that might change in a week or two's time so we'll just have to
wait and see," said Donald Williams, chief investment officer at
Platypus Asset Management.
Miners were mixed as Chinese steel and iron ore futures
slid, but activity in China's factory sector expanded at its
fastest pace in 18 months in July, a preliminary HSBC survey
showed, as a raft of government stimulus measures kicked in.
Among miners, BHP Billiton Ltd dipped 0.2 percent,
while Rio Tinto Ltd tacked on 0.8 percent.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd slumped 4.4 percent
after warning it expects to take post-tax impairments of up to
A$2.5 billion in fiscal 2014. That pushed the
gold sector lower with Beadell Resources Ltd and
Resolute Mining Ltd down 0.9 percent and 1.9 percent
Macquarie Group dumped 2.1 percent after the
investment bank said results for the year ending March 2015
would be in line with the previous year, though it highlighted
short-term challenges such as foreign exchange and tax
Lynas Corp jumped 2.5 percent to a 3-month high of
A$0.20, gaining for the sixth straight session.
"For now it's really about streamlining their project (in
Malaysia), that's when the stock price started rising and it's
slowly recovering," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG.
Paladin Energy Ltd jumped 2.7 percent after
announcing a settlement sale of its minority interest in its
Langer Heinric mining operation.
Insurance Australia Group Ltd climbed 2.2 percent
to an 8 month high of A$6.17 after saying its financial
performance in the 2014 business year has benefited from
favourable natural peril and credit spread outcomes in the
New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index rose 25.32
points to 5,171.64, its best level in nearly two weeks, boosted
by a 5 percent jump in accounting software developer Xero
Investors picked up shares in the fast-growing company after
it said on Wednesday that it expected subscriptions for the
2014/15 year to increase by 80 percent, and that it was
considering a listing on a U.S. stock exchange.
The news lifted shares from a one-month low hit the previous
Also supporting the share market was a signal by the Reserve
Bank of New Zealand that it may hold off from raising interest
rates in the coming months as it gauges the impact of four rate
rises so far this year.
(Editing by Christopher Cushing)