Rudolf Oultz watches the display board at the Australia Stock Exchange in Sydney, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Australian and New Zealand markets have opened lower in reaction to ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgrading of the United States government credit rating from AAA to AA+. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rudolf Oultz watches the display board at the Australia Stock Exchange in Sydney, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Australian and New Zealand markets have opened lower in reaction to ratings agency Standard and Poor's downgrading of the United States government credit rating from AAA to AA+. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Australian shares were slightly higher mid-session amid directionless trading after mixed overseas leads.

At 9.25am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 6.3 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 4726 and the broader All Ordinaries index had added six points, or 0.13 per cent, to 4751.7.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up seven points at 4696 with 8544 contracts traded.

While US stocks made small gains overnight, it was a bad night for commodities which often means losses for Australia's mining sector.

Copper and aluminium prices fell heavily.

OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun described it as an eclectic mix of sectors that were in positive and negative territory.

"It looks like the banking sector is supporting itself most positively and the energy sector is going along quite nicely," he told AAP.

"There are a few stocks out of favour as well in mining services and I think the market is on hold as we want to see those Rio Tinto production numbers."

Rio will release its December quarter and 2012 full year production figures this afternoon, with the market interested in any economic outlook given as well as the actual numbers.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton were flat at $36.57, Rio Tinto had dived 50 cents to $65.49 and Fortescue had fallen seven cents to $4.66.

Woodside Petroleum had lifted 27.5 cents to $35.125 and Santos had climbed 12 cents $11.68.

Among mining services groups, Ausdrill had dropped seven cents, or nearly 2.5 per cent to $6.22, Bradken had shed 19 cents, or nearly three per cent to $6.22 and Monadelphous had given up 29 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $24.70.

Among the major banks, Commonwealth Bank had gained 32 cents to $61.95, ANZ added six cents to $25.27 and National Australia Bank was up three cents to $25.77.

However, Westpac fell 1.5 cents to $26.485.

Billabong shares have shot up 11 cents, or more than 13 per cent, to 95.5 cents after resuming trading at 8am.

The surfwear company had been in a trading halt after the troubled retailer received its sixth takeover bid in less than 12 months.

The West Australian

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