Aust stocks edge higher

The share market has edged higher as investors wait to see how quickly the United States will continue to wind back its economic stimulus measures.

Investors are looking past developments in Ukraine's Crimea region and are waiting on a comments to be made by the US Federal Reserve on Thursday, Australian time, at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting.

The Federal Reserve is expected to give further guidance on how quickly it will wind back its economic stimulus program now that the US economy appears to be improving.

The Australian market had followed world markets higher, Lonsec senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said.

"Crimea seems like it has been put on the interchange bench as far as worldwide market worries are concerned," he said.

"The important thing will be what the announcement of the Federal Reserve is."

In the resources sector, BHP Billiton lost 21 cents to $35.86, Rio Tinto shed 49 cents to $61.36, but Fortescue Metals gained 11 cents to $4.99.

Among the big banks, National Australia Bank eased three cents to $34.51, Westpac rose 16 cents to $33.75, Commonwealth Bank gained 26 cents to $75.45, and ANZ added 17 cents to $32.43.

Retailer David Jones dipped one cent to $3.32 after announcing a five per cent fall in profit in the first half of its fiscal year.

Rival Myer nudged one cent higher to $2.66.


* At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 11 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5,355.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 12.8 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 5,373.0 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was up seven points at 5,355 points, with 91,594 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 1.76 billion securities worth $4.59 billion.

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