(RTTNews.com) - The Australian stock market is advancing on Wednesday despite the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, reflecting gains in mining and oil stocks that helped offset weakness in banking stocks. Nevertheless, investors are cautious ahead of the U.S.Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision due later in the day.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 20.60 points or 0.33 percent to 6,206.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 23.90 points or 0.38 percent to 6,323.00 Australian shares finished marginally lower on Tuesday.
In the mining space, BHP Billiton is advancing 1 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is higher by almost 1 percent after gold prices held steady overnight.
Oil stocks are advancing after crude oil prices extended gains overnight. Oil Search is adding almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by more than 1 percent.
Santos said it plans to nearly double its natural gas production to more than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent by 2025. Share of Santos are also rising more than 1 percent.
Bucking the trend, the big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.
Nufarm has slipped to a full-year loss of A$15.6 million, reflecting drought-related impairments and the cost of acquiring crop protection products. The agricultural chemical supplier's shares remain in a trading halt in relation to a capital raising.
Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, which holds a 77 percent stake in Atlas Iron, is prepared to raise its offer price for the junior miner if its holding touches 87 percent before an extended deadline of next Tuesday. Shares of Atlas Iron are gaining almost 5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7253, up from $0.7246 on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday in choppy trading as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision on Wednesday. The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points, although traders are likely to pay close attention to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for rates.
While the Nasdaq edged up 14.22 points or 0.2 percent to 8,007.47, the Dow fell 69.84 points or 0.3 percent to 26,492.21 and the S&P 500 slipped 3.81 points or 0.1 percent to 2,915.56.
The major European markets moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday to extend gains from the previous session as U.S. sanctions against Iran loomed and top oil producers signaled they were in no rush to increase output. WTI crude for November added $0.20 or 0.3 percent to close at $72.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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