Australia Markets closed

Aust stocks firmer at noon as banks rise

Australian stocks are stronger at noon as firmer prices for banking stocks help keep the market in positive territory.

At 1200 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 9.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 4,512.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen eight points, or 0.18 per cent, to 4,519.8 points.

On the ASX24, the December share price index futures contract was 15 points higher at 4,520 points, on a volume of 10,254 contracts.

Traders appeared to pay little attention to official national accounts data showing Australia's economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter, which was slightly below expectations.

IG Markets market analyst Cameron Peacock said the market was instead more excited by Tuesday's decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates by 25 basis points to three per cent.

This in turn helped banking stocks into early afternoon trade.

"Banks are trading a little bit higher after an interest rate cut," he told AAP.

"The idea of an interest rate cut is to stimulate activity - if lenders are lending, credit activity is going to be higher."

The Commonwealth Bank was leading the charge, with its share price climbing 55 cents to $61.05 at noon.

Westpac was up 17.5 cents to $25.59, National Australia Bank put on 14 cents to $24.39 and ANZ added 18 cents to $24.77.

The stocks of Australia's resource giants was mixed, with BHP Billiton shedding 20 cents to $34.06 but Rio Tinto adding 57 cents to touch $58.98.

The good news for Rio came after freight rail operator Aurizon, formerly known as QR National, extended a Queensland coal haulage contract.

Aurizon will transport up to 12 million tonnes of coal per annum from Rio Tinto's Clermont mine to the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal for 10 years from July 2013.

Meanwhile, Ten Network Holdings shares have gone into a trading halt as the struggling free-to-air broadcaster prepares to raise new funds.

At 1205 AEDT national turnover was 878.7 million securities worth $1.058 billion, with 361 stocks up, 382 down and 303 unchanged.