* ASX 200 touches fresh six-year high, but China PMI dents
* Earnings reports, Wall St support market
* 92 shares higher vs 98 shares lower, 10 unchanged
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, August 21 Australian shares
pared their gains on Thursday after a disappointing survey on
Chinese manufacturing took much of the shine off a handful of
strong earnings reports and Wall Street's upbeat performance.
The soft China economic report quickly ate into early gains
that were spurred by minutes of the Federal Reserve's July
meeting, which lifted U.S. stocks as investors were reassured
that the central bank will retain its ultra-low interest rates
for some time.
Miners pulled back from morning highs as a preliminary
private survey showed growth in activity in China's vast factory
sector slowed to a three-month low in August as output and new
orders lost steam. ID:nL4N0QQ1S4] Rio Tinto was off 0.5
percent and BHP Billiton Ltd added 0.1.
Australia is sensitive to economic news out of China, its
biggest export market.
A continued streak of strong earnings kept the market above
Investment bank AMP Ltd jumped 3.6 percent to its
highest since May 2013 of A$5.73 after lifting its underlying
"We're seeing continued strong earnings reports coming
through which is driving the market today," said Leanne Jones,
an equities analyst at Bell Direct.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 9.7 points to 5,644.3 by
0349 GMT, off a session high of 5,679.5. The benchmark rose 0.2
percent on Wednesday to cap a fifth consecutive session of
gains, its longest winning streak since mid July.
Wesfarmers Ltd was a drag on the market, slumping
2.4 percent to A$44.56 after some analysts downgraded the stock
after it touched a record high of A$45.88 in the previous
Among other earnings results, Origin Energy Ltd
jumped 4.6 percent after Australia's biggest energy retailer by
sales said its net profit climbed 40 percent to A$530 million.
ASX Ltd climbed 1.1 percent to A$36.99, its highest
since March after posting a 10 percent rise in annual net
In the consumer space, Breville posted the biggest
percentage fall on the ASX 200, losing 16.1 percent, after the
small kitchen appliances maker reported a drop in full year net
New Zealand stocks notched modest gains for a third
successive session, with the benchmark NZX-50 index
rising 0.4 percent to 5,161.50, close to a three week high.
Top-stock Fletcher Building Ltd made further gains
after the previous day's solid annual result, hitting a three
month high before easing slightly to be 1.8 percent higher at
Telecoms provider Spark Ltd edged up 0.7 percent to
a three-week high of NZ$2.935 ahead of its annual result on
Investors applauded the result of Port of Tauranga Ltd
, the country's biggest export port. The tightly held
company was up 3.9 percent to a record NZ$15.90, as it lifted
earnings and said it expected further growth.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)