RTTNews - Higher opens are forecast for the New Zealand and Australia sharemarkets on Thursday, following Wall Street's gains overnight. U.S. stocks rose following the latest interest rate decision and economic statement from the Federal Reserve.

Both New Zealand's and Australia's markets posted gains on Wednesday while others around the Asia/Pacific region followed the U.S. lead and were lower.

In New Zealand, the benchmark NZX-50 index advanced 24.2 points or 0.8 percent to 3,079.7.

Trading volume was reported by the NZ Stock Exchange at 38.3 million shares valued at NZ$82.2 million.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 44 to 40 with 28 unchanged.

The market was boosted by Fletcher Building shares, which rose NZ$0.56 or 7.9 percent after the construction company reported better than expected earnings.

Among the session's other most heavily traded issues, Auckland Airport was down .03, AMP New Zealand Office Trust was down .02, Fisher & Paykel Appliances was down a penny, Kiwi Income Property Trust was up one cent, SkyCity Entertainment was down .03 and Telecom Corp of NZ was up four cents.

Among the dual-listed stocks, Australia and NZ Bank was down .09, Westpac Bank was up .31, Telstra was up one cent, AMP was down .08, APN News & Media was down a penny and Lion Nathan up a penny.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed with a gain of 11.1 points or 0.26 percent at 4,343.1 while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 11.5 points or 0.3 percent at 4,345.9.

The banking sector was mixed, following Commonwealth Bank of Australia's earnings report showing a one percent dip in annual profits and guidance saying the outlook remains challenging. Commonwealth shares were up A$1.39 or 3.2 percent, Westpac Bank was up .31, National Australia was down .17, Australia and NZ Banking Group was down .09 and Macquarie Group was down .17.

The major players in the mining sector were higher, with world leader BHP Billiton up .39 and rival Rio Tinto was up .10. Among the others, Fortescue Metals was up .14 and OZ Minerals was down two cents.

For the coal miners, Felix Resources remained in a trading halt, Centennial Coal was down .11 and Macarthur Coal was down four cents.

The oil stocks were lower, with Woodside Petroleum down .42, Santos down .12 and Oil Search down .02.

In the gold sector, Newcrest Mining was down a nickel, Newmont Mining was down three cents and Lihir Gold managed a gain of two cents.

Among the retailers, Woolworths was down .09, Wesfarmers gained .40, JB Hi-Fi was up .75, Harvey Norman was up .03 and David Jones was down .09.

Overseas, traders reacted positively to the latest statement from the Federal Reserve. The Fed left interest rates unchanged, but signaled that the economy was stabilizing, and said it planned to end one of its quantitative easing programs in October.

About 15 minutes before the closing bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 157.87 points or 1.71 percent at 9,399.32, the Nasdaq Composite Index was ahead by 37.63 points or 1.91 percent at 2.007.36 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 15.82 points or 1.59 percent at 1,010.17.

Other major markets around the Asia/Pacific region finished lower on Wednesday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average posted a loss of 150.46 points or 1.42 percent at close at 10,435.00.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 638.97 points or 3.03 percent at 20,435.25.

In China, the Shanghai Composite index was down 152.01 points or 4.66 percent at 3,112.72.

India's BSE 30 index dropped 54.43 points or 0.36 percent to 15,020.16.

The Jakarta Composite index in Indonesia was down 51.92 points or 2.16 percent at 2.347.36.

The KOSPI/Seoul Composite index in South Korea declined 13.86 points or 0.88 percent to 1,565.35.

The Taiwan Weighted Index fell 10.12 points or 0.15 percent to 6,898.90.

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