Aust stocks rise at noon

Local market lifts after Fed holds $US85 a month bond-buying program.

The Australian stock market is higher at noon following record highs on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly kept its stimulus measures intact.

At 1205 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 0.88% higher at 5,284.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 0.9% higher at 5,277.6 points.

IG Markets analyst Evan Lucas said overseas markets rejoiced at the Fed's surprise announcement it was keeping its $US85 billion-a-month bond-buying program in place.

"Markets as you would expect took the news to hold the line on the current accommodative programme as positive news and jumped to all-time intraday and closing highs," Mr Lucas said.

"As you would expect, the risk on trade was switched on – bad news is good news," he said.

Materials posted gains across the board, with the major miners rising.

BHP Billiton rose 1.76% to $36.725, while Rio Tinto lifted 2.89% to $63.485.

Fortescue Metals gained 2.68% to $4.59.

Whitehaven Coal fell 0.73% to $2.045 while Newcrest soared 7.51% to $12.88.

In the energy sector, Santos rose 1.07% to $15.16, Oil Search lifted 1.64% to $8.68 and Woodside put on 1.56% to $39.03.

Financials were mostly higher.

Commonwealth Bank fell 0.4% to $73.685, while ANZ Banking Group lifted 1.12% to $31.075.

National Australia Bank was 0.59% higher at $34.845 and Westpac Banking Corporation put on 1.05% to $32.86.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rose 2.2% to $50.17.

In the insurance sector, QBE fell 1.58% to $14.675, Insurance Australia Group fell 0.09% to $5.845 and Suncorp lifted 1.44% to $13.36.

The retail sector was mostly higher.

Wesfarmers fell 0.51% to $41.33, while Woolworths rose 0.43% to $34.71.

Myer lifted 0.55% to $2.725 and rival David Jones put on 0.52% to $2.885.

Harvey Norman gained 2.64% to $3.305 while JB Hi-Fi lifted 1.71% to $20.20.

In media, Fairfax Media rose 1.35% to 56.25 cents, 21st Century Fox slipped 0.97% to $34.56 and News Corp fell 1.84% to $18.10.

Ten Network fell 0.83% to 29.75 cents and Southern Cross Media rose 1.64% to $1.855, while Seven West lifted 2.42% to $2.54.

Blue chip Qantas gained 2.19% to $1.5175, while Telstra added 0.2% to $4.91.

In local economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia released its quarterly bulletin.

In equities news, Brickworks Ltd, Washington H Soul Pattinson Ltd and Oroton Group released full-year results.

In Australia, the market closed weaker on Wednesday as cautious investors waited for direction from the US Federal Reserve on its stimulus program for the world's biggest economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 13.1 points lower, or 0.25%, at 5,238.1.

The broader All Ordinaries index was down 14.8 points, or 0.28%, at 5,230.4.

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