Aust stocks flat at noon

Local market little changed, following Wall St leads as investors wait for Fed.

The Australian stock market is little changed at noon as investors wait for news from the United States Federal Reserve's meeting tomorrow morning.

At 1205 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched down 0.01% to 5,102.7 points, while the the broader All Ordinaries index edged down 0.03% to 5,104.8 points.

The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to announce the tapering of the Fed's $US85 billion-a-month stimulus program when its two-day meeting concludes tomorrow (Australian time).

Locally, in economic news on Wednesday, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens appeared before the House Economics Committee, saying he was still open to currency intervention.

Financials were mixed.

ANZ rose 0.39% to $30.60 and Commonwealth Bank fell 0.16% to $73.81.

National Australia Bank rose 0.19% to $33.465 and Westpac fell 0.1% to $30.84.

Investment bank Macquarie Group inched up 0.02% to $52.11.

In insurance, IAG rallied 1.3% to $5.455 after this week's announcement it will acquire Wesfarmers' underwriting businesses and completion of an equity raising.

Suncorp added 0.4% to $12.46, while QBE rose 1.77% $10.34.

Materials were mostly stronger.

BHP Billiton rose 0.72% to $35.915, while rival Rio Tinto lifted 0.69% to $65.75.

Fortescue Metals rose 1.72% to $5.615, while Newcrest added 0.54% to $7.38.

Whitehaven Coal lost 1.12% to $1.76 and Santos lost 0.43% to $13.79.

Oil Search added 0.45% to $7.845, while Woodside Petroleum added 0.11% to $37.34.

The retail sector was mostly lower.

Wesfarmers retreated 1.62% to $41.87 while rival Woolworths was flat at $32.73.

Myer fell 0.74% to $2.69 and rival David Jones retreated 0.7% to $2.83.

Harvey Norman fell 1.51% to $2.935, while JB Hi-Fi rose 0.75% to $20.02.

In media, Fairfax Media fell 1.89% to 64.75 cents, 21st Century Fox rose 0.29% to $35.725 and News Corp retreated 1.73% to $19.28.

Ten Network was flat at 27.5 cents, while Seven West fell 0.45% to $2.22 and Southern Cross Media shed 0.32% to $1.565.

Telstra added 0.2% to $5.03, while Qantas rose 1.46% to $1.045.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Indexes of Economic Activity was released, showing a slight dip in November.

In equities news, Orora Ltd lists in the ASX while ANZ and Ten Network have annual general meetings scheduled.

In Australia, the market on Tuesday managed a slight gain as defensive stocks performed well after the release of the federal government's budget update.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 13.6 points, or 0.27%, to 5,103.2.

The broader All Ordinaries index gained 13 points, or 0.26%, to 5,106.1.

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