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The Australian sharemarket is tipped to open flat.
The West Australian The Australian sharemarket is tipped to open flat.

The Australian market was 0.4 per cent higher mid-session as weaker than expected retail sales figures failed to dampen local enthusiasm.

At 10.10am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.2 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 4708.4 and the broader All Ordinaries index had added 16.7 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4729.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 18 points at 4682 with 7169 contracts traded.

RBS Morgans analyst Craig Walker said the local market had extended its gains this morning, despite the release of weaker than expected retail sales figures and weak overseas leads.

"We've experienced gains across the market," Mr Walker said.

"It's a collection of different things, mainly recurring themes that have driven the market up in recent times."

The local market remains at its highest levels in around 18 months.

The gains came despite US stocks falling for a second consecutive day as traders awaited the start of the corporate earnings season.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 55.44 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 13,328.85.

Aluminium maker Alcoa kicked off the US earnings season after Wall Street closed, delivering fourth quarter earnings in line with expectations and forecasting slightly higher demand for aluminum in 2013.

Locally listed shares in Alumina, a joint venture partner with Alcoa, were up five cents, or 5.1 per cent, at $1.03.

Local figures released on Wednesday showed Australian retail spending fell 0.1 per cent in November after economists predicted a rise of 0.3 per cent for November.

Retail stocks were mixed following the result.

The big miners also had a mixed morning despite further rises in iron ore prices.

BHP Billiton rose 0.5 cents to cents to $37.50 and Rio Tinto gained six cents to $66.66 but Fortescue fell three cents to $4.71.

The four major banks also opened mixed.

National Australia Bank jumped 25 cents to $25.34 and Westpac gained 21 cents to $26.49.

However, ANZ fell 12 cents to $25.05 and Commonwealth Bank rose eight cents to $61.45.

National turnover was 730 million shares worth $1.2 billion, with 405 stocks up, 304 down and 311 unchanged.