Australia Markets open in 8 hrs 8 mins

Aust stocks open higher, near 2012 highs

Australian stocks have opened firmer, with the major miners leading the broader market on track to close at a fresh high for calendar 2012.

At 1030 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.5 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 4,570.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 12.7 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 4,575.1 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was eight points higher at 4,575 points, with 5,974 contracts traded.

During the first 30 minutes of trade, the S&P/ASX200 traded above its calendar 2012 closing high of 4,571.1 points reached on October 19, but eased below that mark shortly after.

Bell Potter senior adviser Stuart Smith said he expected the benchmark index to close at a new year-to-date high when trading ended at 1615 AEDT.

"We will be strong," Mr Smith said.

"I think there are absolutely good reasons to buy in the market."

Metals and mineral stocks were leading the broader market higher, having risen 1.03 per cent, according to IRESS data, while materials stocks - a big market sector - had risen 0.91 per cent.

BHP Billiton was up 41 cents, or 1.17 per cent at $35.36, while Rio Tinto had gained 92 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $62.22.

The local bourse got a positive lead from offshore, where Wall Street finished higher and commodities prices firmed.

Making news, the owner of the radio station at the centre of the Duchess of Cambridge prank call affair, Southern Cross Media, was up three cents, or 2.88 per cent at $1.07, rebounding from a 5.8 per cent fall on Monday.

Among the other media stocks, Ten Network Holdings was down 0.25 cent, or 1.02 per cent, at 24.25 cents the day after the stock fell about nine per cent following the first part of its $230 million capital raising.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,711.50 per fine ounce, up $US3.15 from Monday's local close of $US1,708.35 per ounce.

National turnover was 168.1 million securities worth $351.2 million, with 314 stocks trading up, 224 down and 255 unchanged.