Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange at noon on Friday:
RIO - RIO TINTO - down 32 cents, or 0.49 per cent, at $64.82
The NSW premier has defended the application process for a mine extension in the Hunter Valley amid claims a government department is "colluding" with Rio Tinto.
WBC - WARRNAMBOOL CHEESE AND BUTTER - down 7.00 cents, or 0.75 per cent, at $9.20
BGA - BEGA CHEESE - steady, at $4.40
Canadian diary giant Saputo has extended its takeover offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter by a week.
WBC - WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION - down 4.00 cents, or 0.13 per cent, at $30.78
Westpac's chairman says consumer and business sentiment are improving, and has forecast a modest increase in lending in the year ahead.
YAL - YANCOAL - up 0.5 cents, or 0.69 per cent, at 72.5 cents
Yancoal Australia has received a long-term loan from its Chinese parent company.