December 10, 2012 / 5:37 AM / 5 years ago

Australia shares off early highs as home loans disappoint

SYDNEY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - A disappointing rise in home loans brought Australian shares off early highs made on positive U.S. jobs data and industrial output and retails sales figures from China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index came off a high of 4,571.7 points, but held in positive territory at 4,557.9, up 0.1 percent, or 6.1 points, from Friday, when the market closed at a seven-week high.

Australian home loan commitment for October released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed a rise of 0.1 percent, well short of a forecasted rise of 3 percent according to a Reuters poll.

Bellwether miners BHP Billiton Ltd rose 0.6 percent while Rio Tinto Ltd gained 1.9 percent.

Steelmaker Fortescue Metals Group jumped 6.9 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.3 percent or 10.8 points to 4,030.8. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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