Aust stocks stronger at noon

Local market widens morning gains on upbeat Wall Street, European leads.

The Australian stock market is stronger at noon after Wall Street and European markets rallied on regional economic data and the European Central Bank hinted at looser monetary policy.

At 12.05pm (AEDT), the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 44.8 points, or 0.84%, to 5,381.4, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 42.5 points, or 0.79%, to 5,393.5.

Slovak central bank chief and ECB Governing Council member Josef Makuch said the bank was prepared to combat deflationary risks threatening the recovery in the eurozone.

US home-price index, the S&P/Case-Shiller report, showed home prices in the 20 biggest cities in January rose for the 24th consecutive month, up 0.8% compared with the previous month.

Materials were mixed, with the major miners sharply higher.

BHP Billiton rose 2.06% to $36.66, while rival Rio Tinto added 2% to $63.63.

Fortescue Metals lifted 3.19% to $5.335, while Newcrest fell 1.76% to $10.07.

Whitehaven Coal fell 0.93% to $1.605.

Oil Search fell 0.59% to $8.48.

Santos inclined 1.56% to $13.385 and Woodside Petroleum rose 0.21% to $38.44.

In local economic news on Wednesday, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) governor Glenn Stevens is scheduled to address the 17th Annual Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the RBA released its Financial Stability Review.

In Australia, the market on Tuesday closed lower as gold stocks came under pressure because of a significant fall in the price of the precious metal.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index shed 10.3 points, or 0.19%, to 5,336.6.

The broader All Ordinaries index dropped 11.1 points, or 0.21%, to 5,351.