Australia shares seen opening higher, BHP appoints new CEO

Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:42pm EST

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SYDNEY, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares are set to
start higher on Wednesday, buoyed by market momentum and gains
on Wall Street, with top global miner BHP Billiton Ltd 
in focus after it reported a sharp fall in half-year profit and
appointed a new CEO.
        
    * Local share price index futures rose 0.3 percent
to 5,076, a 5.9-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200
index close. The benchmark struck a 4-1/2 year high on
Tuesday, continuing the recent rally on better-than-expected
corporate earnings. 
    * BHP appointed the head of its non-ferrous division as its
new chief executive on Wednesday after it reported a 43 percent
drop in half-year profit, its worst half-year slide in more than
a decade. 
    * New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.7
percent to 4,212.4 in early trade.
    * U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as a surge in merger activity
suggested investors were still finding value in the market even
as indexes closed in on all-time highs.
    * Copper hit a three-week low on Tuesday, depressed by
unease over top consumer China's limp return to the market from
a week-long holiday, although losses were limited by
better-than-expected German investor sentiment data. 
    * Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, Suncorp Group Ltd
, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd will release
earnings reports.
    * Aurizon Holdings Ltd, formerly known as QR
National, reported a 27 percent rise in half year profit after
tax. 
    
----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT @ 2212 GMT ------------
                    INSTRUMENT   LAST       PCT CHG   NET CHG
S&P 500                   1530.94      0.73%    11.150
USD/JPY                   93.55       -0.01%    -0.010
10-YR US TSY YLD     2.0278          --     0.023
SPOT GOLD                 1604.2       0.00%    -0.010
US CRUDE                  96.66        0.83%     0.800
DOW JONES                 14035.67     0.39%     53.91
ASIA ADRS                138.16       1.33%      1.81
-------------------------------------------------------------   
                                                 
  
  * M&A deals lift Wall Street shares nearer a record high 
  * Oil rises, following U.S. equities higher             
  * Gold drops near 6-month low on economic optimism     
  * Copper at 3-wk low as Chinese demand disappoints    
    
    For a digest of the day's business stories in Australian 
newspapers, double click on    

 (Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by John Mair)
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