Aust stocks higher at noon

Local bourse extends gains to be nearly 0.5% higher in midday trade.

By a staff reporter, with AAP

The Australian share market has extended its early gains to be nearly 0.5 per cent higher in midday trade, taking its leads from Wall Street's record highs which followed the International Monetary Fund's upgraded US growth outlook.

At 1207 AEDT the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 0.48 per cent higher at 5,317.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 0.46 per cent to 5,315.9 points.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said trading was light, with many large investors re-positioning their portfolios before taking holidays.

"I do know a number of traders who are in the market who think this week is the best week of the year to make money," Mr Weston said.

"Given the low liquidity, it is easy to push stocks around."

Financials were stronger across the board.

ANZ added 0.25 per cent to $32.03 and Commonwealth Bank gained 0.4 per cent to $77.07.

National Australia Bank lifted 0.16 per cent to $34.675, while Westpac rose 0.47 per cent to $32.07.

Investment bank Macquarie Group inclined 1.42 per cent to $55.78.

In insurance, IAG gained 1.5 per cent to $5.755, Suncorp pushed 0.62 per cent higher to $13.08, while QBE lifted 1.13 per cent $11.68.

Materials were mixed, with the major split down the middle.

BHP Billiton added 0.22 per cent to $37.24, while rival Rio Tinto fell 0.49 per cent to $66.57.

Fortescue Metals dropped 0.61 per cent to $5.705 and Newcrest added 0.8 per cent to $7.60.

Whitehaven Coal lost 0.52 per cent to $1.93 while Santos put on 0.9 per cent to $14.63.

Oil Search inched up 0.12 per cent to $8.21 and Woodside Petroleum inclined 0.46 per cent to $39.08.

The retail sector was higher as retailers reported strong Christmas trading.

Wesfarmers rose 0.85 per cent to $43.90 while rival Woolworths added 0.57 per cent to $33.80.

Myer lifted 1.49 per cent to $2.72 and rival David Jones gained 1.02 per cent to $2.97.

Harvey Norman advanced 1.45 per cent to $3.145, while JB Hi-Fi added 0.76 per cent to $21.29.

In media, Fairfax Media declined 1.54 per cent to 64 cents, 21st Century Fox added 1.01 per cent to $38.08 and News Corp inclined 0.71per cent to $19.89.

Ten Network rose 0.86 per cent to 29.25 cents, while Seven West fell 1.06 per cent to $2.335 and Southern Cross Media added 1.19 per cent to $1.695.

Telstra inclined 0.38 per cent to $5.22, while Qantas was flat at $1.095.

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