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SYDNEY, Nov 20 AAP

November 20 2012, 10:50AM

Australian stocks are firmer, with gains in the resources sectors leading the broader market higher.

At 1028 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 15 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 4,376.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 15.2 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 4,397.8 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was eight points higher at 4,387 points, with 9,197 contracts traded.

Lonsec private client adviser Michael Heffernan said the Australian market had been guided by a positive night on overseas markets.

"Looking at overseas markets last night, it was like a sea of green everywhere you looked," Mr Heffernan said.

"It was a great night last night, largely due to what I call the incredibly shrinking fiscal cliff.

"There's clear signs it is well on the way to being resolved and that's a real fuel injection for the market."

The fiscal cliff refers to a looming US budget deadline over a series of tax measures and government spending cuts which are due to automatically come into effect from January, unless US politicians can agree on a long-term debt reduction plan.

The tax hikes and spending cuts are expected to push the US back into recession with a significant knock-on impact on the global economy.

Locally, metals and minerals stocks were the best-performing sector on the market at the open, rising 1.29 per cent, according to IRESS data.

The materials sector - a big component of the local bourse - was up 1.1 per cent.

Wall Street closed firmer as US markets cheered upbeat housing data and expressed optimism legislators would reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The Dow gained 1.65 per cent, the S&P500 advanced 1.99 per cent and the NASDAQ rose 2.21 per cent.

Australian market players will likely focus on the release the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) November board meeting minutes, at 1130 AEST, and a speech from its governor Glenn Stevens, at 1915 AEDT.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,730.20 per fine ounce, up $US7.51 from Monday's local close of $US1,722.69 per ounce.

National turnover was 241.4 million securities worth $441.5 million, with 353 stocks up, 194 down and 235 unchanged.