* Apple shares jump 8 pct after hours on buyback, results
* Nasdaq futures rally 1 pct after Wednesday's weakness
* New Zealand dollar higher as central bank hikes rates
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, April 24 (Reuters) - Shares in tech heavyweights
Apple and Facebook held hefty after-hours gains on Thursday as
their results handily outpaced Wall Street expectations, though
Asian markets managed only a muted cheer on the news.
Seoul shares added 0.2 percent as Samsung
Electronics climbed 1.7 percent, but Japan's Nikkei
struggled to make any headway at all.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
edged up 0.1 percent.
The outlook for the U.S. market was brighter with Nasdaq
futures up 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 E-mini up
The gains came after Apple decided to buy back $30
billion of its shares through the end of 2015 and authorised a
seven-for-one stock split.
Its shares jumped almost 8 percent to $566.50 in after-hours
trade, adding roughly $35 billion to its market worth.
Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter
ended March, far outpacing forecasts. That drove a 4.6 percent
rise in revenue to $45.6 billion, a record for any non-holiday
The iPhone maker's strong performance could have a positive
knock-on effect across some of Asia's big tech players in Japan,
South Korea and Taiwan.
Facebook Inc shares also boasted a 3.7 percent jump
after hours as the Internet social networking company topped
Wall Street's financial targets.
The Nasdaq had ended Wednesday 0.83 percent lower,
while the Dow eased 0.08 percent and the S&P 500
lost 0.22 percent.
NZD THE LONE MOVER
The main mover in currencies was the New Zealand dollar,
which hopped higher after the country's central bank raised
interest rates by a quarter point to 3 percent and signalled
there was more tightening to come.
The kiwi dollar gained around a third of a cent to
a high of $0.8623 after the announcement.
Yet that was the only excitement in a market that has been
trading within frustratingly tight ranges recently. The U.S.
dollar had barely budged on the yen at 102.51, having
yo-yoed in a 101.50 to 104.50 yen band for almost three months
Likewise, the euro was little changed at $1.3815
after failing to sustain even the smallest of rallies overnight.
It briefly popped up to $1.3854 following better news on euro
zone manufacturing, but quickly ran out of steam.
The latest performance of manufacturing indexes showed euro
zone businesses enjoyed the best month in nearly three years,
led by a jump in Germany.
The "flash" PMI for the United States dipped a tick to 55.4
in April, missing forecasts of 56.0 but still pointing to solid
growth in the sector.
However, there was worrying news on U.S. housing as new home
sales dived 14.5 percent in March on top of a 4.5 drop in
February. The annualised sales pace of 384,000 was the second
slowest since late 2012, a blow to what has been a major driver
of the U.S. economic recovery.
In commodity markets, oil prices recouped some of the losses
suffered after U.S. crude inventories hit a record high, with
the continuing crisis in Ukraine keeping a floor under the
Brent crude for June delivery added 12 cents to
$109.23 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained 14 cents to
Gold was holding steady around $1,283.36 an ounce but
remained uncomfortably close to major chart support at $1,275.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Chris Gallagher)