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Aust stocks slightly higher

The Australian share market is slightly higher on low volumes as trading winds down ahead of Christmas.

"In general, there's been a pretty broad sweep of positiveness across the market. There's nothing outstanding though," Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said.

Mr Heffernan said it was "just the absence of bad news" driving the market on Thursday.

At noon the major miners were mixed after slightly weaker iron ore prices overnight.

BHP Billiton was 0.5 cents weaker at 25.165 cents, Rio Tinto added 29 cents to $60.41, and Fortescue Metals was up five cents at $6.00

Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum lifted 22 cents to $31.26, Santos eased 6.5 cents to $3.905, and Oil Search firmed five cents to $6.93.

Libya's announcement that it expected to boost oil production and a surprise rise in US crude inventories last week have pushed oil prices down by one per cent.

Among other stocks, Seven West Media dipped 0.5 cents to 79 cents as the broadcaster announced it will have an independent inquiry into damaging allegations made by a former employee who had an affair with network CEO Tim Worner.

Fuel retailer and supplier Caltex Australia dropped 52 cents to $30.29 after it announced a $325 million deal to buy Kiwi fuel retailer Gull New Zealand.


* At 1207 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 22.1 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,635.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was also up 21.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,683.9 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was up 17 points at 5,596 points, with 11,451 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 648.8 million securities traded, worth $1.2 billion.