* Asian shares get a lift as China PMI beats forecasts
* Tech stocks boosted by Apple, Facebook hits record high
* Emerging markets buoyed as investors seek yield
* NZ dollar skids as RBNZ signals pause after latest rate
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, July 24 Asian stock markets edged
broadly higher on Thursday and the Australian dollar jumped
after a surprisingly strong reading on Chinese manufacturing
bolstered hopes for recovery in the world's second-biggest
The HSBC flash PMI came in at 52.0 for July, well above
forecasts of a small rise to 51 in July and the highest reading
in 18 months. There was also good news on the outlook, with a
sub-index of new orders reaching 53.7.
The news injected some life into what had been a very
sluggish session, and helped China's CSI300 index of
leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share jump 1.1 percent.
Japan's Nikkei added 0.2 percent while MSCI's
broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
gained 0.3 percent.
South Korea's benchmark index also rose 0.3 percent
despite data showing the country's economy growing at the
slowest pace in more than a year. Seoul later announced a
package of stimulus measures, including more government
Traders noted that, despite all the geopolitical risk, money
was clearly flowing back into emerging markets in search for
yield. MSCI's index of emerging equities had jumped in
the past two sessions to reach its highest since January 2013.
"Emerging markets continue to be main benefactor from the
mix of low volatility, improving global growth and supportive
central banks," said analysts at Barclays in a note.
Helping sentiment is that the U.S. earnings season is
turning out better than first feared. Barclays estimates that of
the 22 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly
results since July 1, 64 percent beat earnings expectations and
65 percent beat revenue estimates.
Apple Inc gave one of the biggest lifts to the
market, rising 2.6 percent as concerns faded about the iPhone
maker's margins. Facebook Inc also beat forecasts and its
stock climbed almost 5 percent after hours.
All of which helped the Nasdaq gain 0.4 percent,
while the S&P 500 added 0.2 percent.
The Dow bucked the trend, pulled lower by a 2.3 percent drop
in Boeing Co shares. The U.S. aircraft maker reported a
52 percent jump in quarterly profit, but investors were spooked
by rising costs in its military tanker program.
The Dow closed down 0.2 percent.
NZ DOLLAR SKIDS
Still, the prospect of more sanctions against Russia over
the Ukraine crisis and a downed Malaysian airliner maintained a
safety bid for high-rated bonds. German 10-year yields
fell to 1.147 percent, just shy of record lows.
For U.S. Treasuries, investors were buying more liquid
shorter-dated paper, nudging two-year yields down to
In currencies, the New Zealand dollar led the action by
skidding to a six-week low after the country's central bank
signalled a pause following its fourth straight rate hike.
The kiwi dollar dropped nearly a full U.S. cent to $0.8606
after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised
rates by 25 basis points to 3.5 percent, but said it was time to
wait and gauge the impact of its recent policy tightening on the
The Australian dollar lunged a quarter of a U.S.
cent higher as the improving Chinese outlook promised to support
demand for the country's resource exports.
Activity elsewhere was limited, with the euro stuck
at eight-month lows around $1.3460, leaving the dollar index
hovering at a six-week peak.
Against the yen, the U.S. dollar firmed a tad to 101.54
, recovering slowly from the recent low of 101.09.
In commodities, gold was lagging behind in the beauty
competition with equities and eased to $1,300.40 an ounce
Crude oil prices were a shade firmer Brent crude for
September delivery added 5 cents to $108.08 a barrel,
while U.S. crude gained a cent to $103.13.
(Editing by Kim Coghill)