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Share market hits pre-GFC levels

The Australian share market has risen to its highest level in four-and-a-half years, as mining shares rally ahead of Rio Tinto's profit results.

The ASX 200 index was up 36 points to 5,040 just over an hour before the close of trade.

That is the highest level since August 2008, a month before the collapse of Lehman Brothers plunged the world into full scale financial meltdown.

However, it is still a long way from its record high above 6,800 points.

The All Ordinaries index had gained 35 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,060.

Resources companies are leading the gains, with Rio up 2.2 per cent ahead of its full-year results (which will be released around an hour after the Australian share market closes), BHP Billiton up 2.5 per cent to $38.85 and Fortescue up 4.5 per cent.

The major banks are mixed, with NAB and the Commonwealth broadly flat after strong runs in recent days, while ANZ was up 0.9 per cent and Westpac 1.3 per cent.

Wesfarmers was up 1.6 per cent after reporting a 9 per cent rise in profit.

However, David Jones was down 1 cent to $2.67 on a 1.4 per cent fall in its pre and post-Christmas sales, while rival department store Myer was down 1.3 per cent.

The Australian dollar was buying 103.55 US cents.