Australia shares may pause as mkt looks for new drivers

Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:34pm EST

SYDNEY, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares may open lower
on Friday as investors look for new drivers to fuel a rally that
has taken the market to 4-1/2 year highs, with some caution
expected after weak euro zone growth data and Rio Tinto's
 $3 billion loss.

    * Local share price index futures slipped 0.1
percent to 4,987, a 49.9 point discount to the underlying
S&P/ASX 200 index. The benchmark hit a 4-1/2 year high
on Thursday, and closed up 0.7 percent at 4,036.88.
    * New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 35.92
points to 4,203.28 in early trade.
    * The S&P 500 eked out a small gain for a third straight
session on Thursday, helped by a flurry of merger activity,
though investors see no catalysts to lift the market further
with major averages near multi-year highs.
    * Optimism that China's demand for copper will pick up after
the Lunar New Year holidays boosted copper prices.
    * Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp, the
country's fourth-largest bank, posted a 6.2 percent rise in
first quarter cash earnings. 
    * Reserve Bank of Australia's Christopher Kent will speak to
the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) in
Perth (0515 GMT).
 ----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2224 GMT ------------
                     INSTRUMENT   LAST       PCT CHG   NET CHG
 S&P 500                          1521.38      0.07%     1.050
 USD/JPY                          92.92        0.08%     0.070
 10-YR US TSY YLD                 1.9983          --    -0.058
 SPOT GOLD                        1633.75     -0.04%    -0.710
 US CRUDE                         97.3         0.30%     0.290
 DOW JONES                        13973.39    -0.07%     -9.52
 ASIA ADRS                        136.81      -0.37%     -0.51
  * Wall St ends up slightly for third day               
  * Oil rises with US gasoline supply concerns           
  * Gold drops to 6-week low on euro recession fears     
  * Copper rises on optimism over Chinese demand        
    For a digest of the day's business stories in Australian 
newspapers, double click on 

 (Reporting by Pauline Askin; Editing by John Mair)