Wires

Australia shares start softer, hold near 14-mth highs

(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.1percent in early trade on Monday, with mining stocks losingground while banks gained, and traders were looking for newmomentum drivers as the market consolidated last week's rise to14-month highs.

The slightly softer tone was in line with Friday's mixedclose on Wall Street where a surprise drop in the U.S.unemployment rate was overshadowed by investor concern about thecoming earnings season.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

was down 2.2 pointsto 4,492.2 by 0037 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.9 percent on Fridayto its highest close since August 2011.

"I think it's a consequence of the fact that we've had quitea large run-up now," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst atCMC Markets.

"I think we've just arrived at one of the sorts of levelswhere the market needs to see a bit more evidence of a medium-term outlook before it takes prices much beyond current levels."

Among the major miners BHP Billiton

fell 0.3percent while rival Rio Tintolost 0.2 percent.Newcrest Miningtumbled 2.8 percent.

Banks were mostly strong, with Australia and New ZealandBanking Corp

leading the gains, rising 0.6 percent.Commonwealth Bank of Australiabucked the trend,slipping 0.1 percent.

Defensive stocks also rose, with blood products maker CSL

jumping 1.2 percent and food retailer Woolworths

up 0.2 percent

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

rose 0.1percent, or 4.3 points, to 3,909.2.STOCKS ON THE MOVE* QR National

, Australia's top coal-freightcompany, jumped 4.8 percent to $3.64. Australia's Queenslandstate government said it was selling $1.5 billion worth ofshares in QR National, with the company planning to buy backtwo-thirds of those shares.

(0035 GMT)* Seven West Media

, owner of Australia's top-ratedfree-to-air television networks, surged 5.3 percent to A$1.29 onMonday on speculation of a buyout by its largest shareholder.

(0036 GMT)* Aquila Resources

fell 0.4 percent to A$2.67. Thecompany said it is looking at ways to cut the cost of developingits long-delayed iron ore mine, rail and port facility inWestern Australia after estimated spending on the projectswelled by almost a quarter to A$7.4 billion.

(0036 GMT)

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by John Mair)

((thuy.ong@thomsonreuters.com)(+61 2 9373 1236)(ReutersMessaging: thuy.ong@thomsonreuters.com))

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