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Aust stocks close at 17-month high

The Australian share market closed at its highest level in one and a half years as investors piled into mining stocks following strong gains overseas.

At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 7.8 points, or 0.17 per cent higher at 4,583.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 10.5 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 4,591.8.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 10 points higher at 4,4590, with 27,627 contracts traded.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed at its highest level since June 2011 and the All Ordinaries index closed at its highest level since July 2011.

RBS Morgans analyst Bill Chatterton said the materials sector led the charge on Wednesday afternoon.

"The price iron ore price moved up to $124.50 overnight so that's certainly having an impact on these stocks in terms of investor confidence," Mr Chatterton said.

BHP Billiton was up 35 cents to $35.76, Rio Tinto surged 43 cents to $62.20 and Fortescue gained seven cents to $4.28.

Woodside Petroleum gained 55 cents to $34.45 and Paladin Energy gained 6.5 cents to 90 cents.

Meanwhile, Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.78 per cent to 7,589.75 points, its highest level since the beginning of 2008.

London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies edged up 0.06 per cent to 5,924.97 points, close to a nine-month high.

Wall Street also ended higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.6 per cent, the S&P500 0.65 per cent and the NASDAQ 1.18 per cent.

In local news Linc Energy shares surged 25 per cent to $1.30 on Wednesday on the back of continued speculation that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is interested in the company.

Coca-Cola Amatil shares dived 36 cents to $13.56, after forecasting a rise of up to five per cent in underlying net profit for 2012/13.

Shares in mining contractor Macmahon Holdings were in a trading halt after it said it is pulling out of the construction business and tapping investors for $80.7 million as it tries to reverse a slide in earnings.

National turnover was 1.7 billion securities worth $5.2 billion, with 526 stocks trading up, 405 down and 371 unchanged.

Sydney gold closed at 1710.75, down $1.11 from Tuesday's close of $US1,709.39.