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Australian shares extend gains

The Australian share market is extending its good run for January, led by gains in the resources sector.

At 1248 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 13.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 4,902.1 and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 13.3 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 4,924.1.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 12 points higher at 4,866 with 14,980 contracts traded.

Bill Chatterton, senior private client adviser at RBS Morgans, said the market was having its strongest run since the global financial crisis.

"This market we've been dealing with really started at the end of 2007 - we've been through the GFC and, really, the markets haven't done very much until the last three or four months," he told AAP.

"There's enough reasons out there: interest rates are one of the main drivers to getting people into the share market, and those rates around the world are extremely low.

"We are starting to see some improvements in some of the worst-hit economies: The US is certainly doing better, Europe is still tough."

Ms Chatterton said resources stocks were the best performers, with BHP up 41 cents at $37.58 and Rio Tinto up 95 cents at $67.10.

Energy stocks were also up, with Santos adding 39 cents at $12.21 and Woodside Petroleum up 18 cents to $36.03.

Westpac was the only bank down, losing eight cents to $28.14.

However, Commonwealth gained 30 cents to $65.03, National Australia Bank was up two cents at $27.74, and ANZ climbed 18 cents to $26.69.

Insurance stocks were recovering from heavy falls on Tuesday, with QBE bouncing back strongest by 46 cents to $11.74. Suncorp shares were up 12 cents at $10.82, and Insurance Australia Group was up six cents at $4.99.

Making news, Wesfarmers has lifted sales in all its retail businesses in the first half of the financial year, with the strongest growth coming from Coles and Bunnings.

Wesfarmers shares were down 80 cents at $38.02, while rival Woolworths was down 19 cents at $31.68.

National turnover at 1248 AEDT was 975.1 million shares worth $1.67 billion.