Aust stocks close nearly 1% higher

By a staff reporter

The Australian stock market moved nearly one per cent higher in afternoon trade, following positive leads from Wall Street where the Dow Jones hit a fresh record and the S&P 500 flirted with an all-time high.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lifted 0.91 per cent to 4995 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 0.85 per cent to 5007 points.

Resources stocks were mostly stronger, with the major miners advancing.

Rio Tinto added 1.16 per cent to $57.59, after announcing a $US1.5 billion ($A1.4 billion) cost blowout on its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in Mongolia.

Rival BHP Billiton grew 0.82 per cent to $33.19.

Fortescue Metals surged 4.46 per cent to $3.98. 

Whitehaven Coal was flat at $2.10.

Gold miner Newcrest decreased 0.36 per cent to $21.87.

In crude stocks, Woodside lost 0.93 per cent to $36.20.

Oil Search slipped 0.13 per cent to $7.57, and Santos added 1.04 per cent to $12.66.

Linc Energy entered a trading halt, ahead of a release to the market regarding a proposed capital raising. Linc last traded at $2.67.

The financial sector also edged higher, with the big four banks all posting modest gains.

ANZ Banking Group inclined 0.18 per cent to $28.49 and Commonwealth Bank edged down 0.29 per cent to $68.11.

National Australia Bank accelerated 0.49 per cent to $28.58 and Westpac Banking Corporation grew 0.33 per cent to $30.78.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rallied 3.3 per cent to $37.26.

In the insurance sector, QBE increased 3.71 per cent to $13.42 after saying at its annual general meeting that it was on track to meet its financial targets in 2013.

Insurance Australia Group was 2.33 per cent higher at $5.70 and Suncorp Group added 2.19 per cent at $11.69.

Retail stocks were mixed.

Woolworths inched up 0.89 per cent to $34.15 while rival Wesfarmers inched up 0.5 per cent to $40.60. 

Myer declined 0.33 per cent to $2.98, while David Jones was unchanged at $3.02.

Harvey Norman increased 1.45 per cent $2.79 and JB Hi-Fi dropped 0.93 per cent to $14.92.

In media stocks, Fairfax Media added 0.79 per cent to 63.50 cents, while rival News inclined 1.28 per cent to $29.29. 

Seven West grew 2.39 per cent $2.14, while rival Ten was unchanged at 33.5 cents.

Southern Cross Media was 1.29 per cent lower at $1.575.

Blue chip Qantas lifted 2.33 per cent to $1.76, on news the ACCC had granted conditional approval to its alliance with Emirates.

Telstra grew 1.56 per cent to $4.55, after flagging a push into the cyber security market. 

Nufarm last traded at $4.77 entered a trading halt ahead of an announcement pertaining to the release of its half-yearly results.

In economics news on Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia's latest financial stability review said global conditions are improving.

In Australia, the market closed the previous session lower as markets worldwide were spooked by comments by the Dutch finance minister over the Cyprus bailout.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 40.0 points at 4950.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 36.8 points at 4964.7 points.