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MELBOURNE, Nov 30 AAP

November 30 2012, 4:49PM

Australian stocks climbed higher on Friday, driven higher by the major miners on the back of strong commodity prices.

At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 28.3 points, or 0.63 per cent, higher at 4,506.0, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 27.9 points, or 0.62 per cent, at 4,518.0.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 27 points higher at 4,516, with 29,888 contracts traded.

Regional markets in Australia and around Asia slightly outperformed the US leads from overnight.

CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer said that was a good thing that appeared to indicate traders were better absorbing the daily grind of positive and negative news out of the US about negotiations to resolve its looming fiscal cliff.

The cliff refers to a series of tax hikes and spending cuts due to automatically come into effect from January to deal with the nation's massive budget deficit.

"The market has hit the end of month finish line with some gusto today," Mr Waterer told AAP.

"Rising commodity prices overnight stood the materials sector in good stead today.

"The market is learning to absorb comments by politicians, like in the US last night (Republican House speaker) John Boehner saying something negative about there being no substantive progress in talks but the market shrugged it off today."

Global miner Rio Tinto helped drive up the bourse climbing $1.57, or 2.75 per cent, higher to $58.75.

BHP Billiton posted a more modest 18 cent rise to $34.39 and Fortescue Metals lifted five cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $3.91.

Energy stocks also shone, with Woodside Petroleum lifting 20 cents to $33.80 and Santos improved by 1.92 per cent to $11.14.

Making news on Friday, grocery wholesaler Metcash said net profit for the six months to October 31, 2012, fell 13 per cent to $82 million, compared with the prior corresponding period.

Metcash was down 8.0 cents, or 2.28 per cent, at $3.43.

Supermarket owner Woolworths was seven cents worse off at $29.28 with more defensive stocks struggling.

Qantas reported a drop in revenue seat factor - a measure including passenger numbers and distances flown - for the fourth month in a row.

Qantas shares were 0.5 of a cent, or 0.38 per cent, higher at $1.325 while rival Virgin Australia had a better day, up one cent, or 2.33 per cent, higher at 44 cents.

National turnover was 2.4 billion securities worth $6.85 billion, with 543 stocks up, 400 down and 373 unchanged.

By Greg Roberts