Australia shares pull back from 5-yr highs, focus on Fed taper
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 0.5 percent on Friday morning, stepping back from 5-year highs as global markets braced for an expected tapering of the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive monetary stimulus next week, and a drop in metals prices hurt miners.
Copper fell to its lowest level in five weeks and gold dropped 3 percent. Blue chips BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd fell 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
Newcrest Mining Ltd, the world's no.3 gold miner, lost 2.4 percent and Medusa Mining Ltd tumbled 6.3 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 24.5 points to 5,218.6 by 0119 GMT, but was still up about 1.4 percent for the week. The index has risen for the past five sessions, and on Thursday hit a peak of 5,252.1, its highest since June 2008.
U.S. stocks fell overnight, ending seven straight days of gains by the S&P 500 index.
"Investors were always going to get nervous at the year's highs," said Stan Shamu, IG's market strategist in a note to clients.
"Even if we taper off today it certainly seems like there is some confidence returning to this market."
A Reuters poll shows economists at a majority of U.S. primary dealers expect the Federal Reserve to cut the size of its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases at its policy review next week.
Financials and insurers dragged on the market in a broad sell-off. National Australia Bank shed 0.9 percent while Westpac Banking Corp lost 0.8 percent. QBE Insurance Group Ltd dropped 1.1 percent.
"We're at the highest levels since before the global financial crisis," said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser and economist from broker Lonsec.
"It's a bit of profit taking and part of the ebb and flow of a normal market on the uptrend."
Gambling tycoon James Packer's Crown Ltd was up 1 percent to A$15.63 after Sri Lanka approved a hotel and leisure resort, having earlier hit an all-time high of A$15.79.
Aquila Resources Ltd fell 1.8 percent as it sought new investors for its long-delayed West Pilbara iron ore project as its 50 percent partner may no longer be committed.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent to trade at 4,646.5 points. (Reporting by Thuy Ong, additional reporting by Michael Sin; Editing by John Mair)
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