The West

The Australian sharemarket is continuing its upward trajectory, boosted by a strong rally on Wall Street after the breakthrough deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

At 9am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 28.8 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 4734.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 31.6 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 4754.5.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 24 points at 4708 with 8743 contracts traded.

The local market is still trading around a 19 month high after the US Congress approved a bill rolling back a package of tax hikes and spending cuts that had threatened to push America back into recession - a situation called the fiscal cliff.

The S&P 500 soared 2.5 per cent overnight.

IG Markets Stan Shamu said local investors were in a good mood this morning.

"We've picked up on that lead in US trade with the fiscal cliff being averted for now," he said.

"Everyone's feeling like buying at the moment."

Mr Shamu said many investors did not want to miss out on profits.

However, the current rally, which began in December, could slow down as investors began locking in gains.

With the fiscal cliff out of the way, the focus would shift back to economic data, with the next major event being the release of US non-farm payrolls for December during the offshore session on Friday night.

Local miners extended yesterday's gains, with Rio Tinto shares up $1.32, or 1.95 per cent to $68.94, BHP Billiton added 21 cents to $38.05 and Fortescue Metals had put on 2.2 per cent to $5.03.

Commonwealth Bank shares were up 45 cents, to $63.17, reaching an all-time high.

The other major banks gained ground, ANZ shares rose 14 cents to $25.23, Westpac was up 13 cents to $26.23 and National Australia bank was 11.5 cents higher at $25.21.

In other news IAG shares were 3.5 cents, or 0.75 per cent, higher at $4.72 after it raised its catastrophe reinsurance programme to $5 billion for 2013, from $4.7 billion in 2012.

National turnover was 659 million shares worth $1.16 billion, with 562 shares up, 240 down and 284 unchanged.

The West Australian

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