The Australian market has hit a fresh 20-month high as the resignation of Rio Tinto's chief executive boosted the resources giant's stocks.
At 9am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.8 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 4,775.4 and the broader All Ordinaries index had added 19.1 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,798.8.
The S&P/ASX200 reached a daily peak of 4780.8 at 8.29am, hitting the highest level since May 11, 2011 when it touched 4782.4.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 21 points at 4742 with 11,939 contracts traded.
The local market rose in the morning as investors responded to Rio Tinto's Thursday night announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange of Tom Albanese's resignation as chief executive.
Rio Tinto's shares surged by 3.2 per cent, adding $2.07, to touch $66.67 at noon, following its writedown of $US14 billion ($A13.30 billion) of acquisitions made on the departing chief's watch.
Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the sharp rise in Rio shares was accounting for close to 19 per cent of the jump in the S&P/ASX200 index.
"We've seen a $14 billion writedown ... we're seeing the slate wiped clean," she told AAP.
The writedown of Rio's aluminium assets and Mozambique coal assets were announced in the same statement released to the ASX after the market closed yesterday.
Mr Albanese's replacement Sam Walsh has been with the resources giant since 1991 and presently runs the iron ore division from Perth.
Other resources stocks had more modest gains, with BHP Billiton adding 24 cents to $36.58.
Meanwhile, Qantas said it had reduced by one, to 14, the number of Dreamliner aircraft it would buy from Boeing, due to expectations of slowing long-haul route growth in its cut-price subsidiary Jetstar.
Ms Lee said the Australian sharemarket was likely to enjoy more gains this afternoon, when Chinese gross domestic product data is released.
"If it's better than expected, that should give a boost in the afternoon," she said.
Analysts are expecting the figures to show an annualised growth pace of 7.8 per cent in the year to December 2012, which Ms Lee said would end seven quarters of weak economic activity.National turnover was 688.9 million shares worth $1.228 billion, with 452 stocks up, 285 down and 356 unchanged.
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