* Asian shares get a lift as China PMI beats forecasts
* Tech stocks boosted by Apple, Facebook hit 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 stocks edged higher on
Thursday as U.S. tech earnings impressed and a surprisingly
strong reading on Chinese manufacturing bolstered hopes for
recovery in the world's second-biggest economy.
The HSBC flash PMI for China 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 a sluggish session and
helped China's CSI300 index of leading Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share jump 1.9 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
gained 0.2 percent, and Australia notched
another six-year peak.
Japan's export figures were not so bright and the Nikkei
fell 0.3 percent. South Korea's benchmark index
dipped 0.1 percent after data showed the economy growing at the
slowest pace in more than a year, leading Seoul to launch a
package of stimulus measures.
European socks also looked set for a subdued start with
financial spreadbetters predicting losses of 0.1 to 0.2 percent
for the FTSE 100, DAX and CAC 40.
Yet traders noted that 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," analysts at Barclays said in a note.
Helping sentiment is the U.S. earnings season 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 rose 2.6 percent as concerns faded about
the iPhone maker's margins. Facebook Inc beat forecasts
and its stock climbed 5.5 percent after hours.
All this 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
The prospect of more sanctions against Russia over the
Ukraine crisis and the downed Malaysian airliner maintained a
safety bid for high-rated bonds.
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 took
a verbal axe to the currency, saying its high level was
The kiwi dollar dropped a full U.S. cent to $0.8586
when the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised rates to 3.5
percent, but said it was prudent to pause on policy after four
The Australian dollar climbed as much as 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 idled at 101.43,
recovering only slowly from the recent low of 101.09.
In commodities, gold was lagging behind in the beauty
contest with equities and eased to $1,296.90 an ounce.
Crude oil prices ran into renewed selling after a bounce on
Wednesday. Brent crude for September delivery eased a
cent to $108.02 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 22 cents
(Editing by Kim Coghill and Eric Meijer)