Australia shares finish 0.3 pct up; Rio jumps on CEO switch

Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:27am EST

(Updates to close)

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed 0.3 percent higher on Friday to sit around a 20-month high, buoyed by mining stocks and a strong lead from Wall Street, but better Chinese GDP data failed to boost the market further.

Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd climbed 2.7 percent after chief executive Tom Albanese stepped down following billions of dollars of write-offs on aluminium and coal assets, to be replaced by iron ore division chief Sam Walsh.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 14.6 points higher to 4,771.2, according to the latest data. It rose 1.3 percent for the week, the biggest weekly gain in seven weeks.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index backed off from a five-year high and fell 0.8 percent to 4,164.2, after the country's Q4 consumer price index dipped 0.2 percent, lower than expected. (Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Paul Tait)

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