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SYDNEY, Dec 3 AAP

December 03 2012, 10:53AM

Australian stocks have opened firmer, with gains among mining-related companies among the early highlights in quiet trading conditions.

At 1035 AEDT on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 12.8 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 4,518.8 points, while the broad-market All Ordinaries had risen 11.5 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 4,529.5 points.

On the ASX24, the December share price index futures contract was 14 points higher at 4,530 points, on volume of 8,220 contracts.

The local market outperformed a flat lead from the weekend offshore session, when Wall Street finished little changed and London's FTSE100 closed down a slender 0.06 per cent.

Baillieu Holst director Richard Morrow said the market was buoyed by higher base metals prices, which were inching up to the top end of their recent trading range, and some encouraging Chinese economic data published over the weekend.

Also, Mr Morrow said market players were also anticipating an interest rate cut from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) when the central bank board meets on Tuesday (AEDT).

"There is generally a little bit more optimism around," Mr Morrow said.

BHP Billiton was up 18 cents, or 0.52 per cent, at $34.57, while Rio tinto had advanced 14 cents, or 0.24 per cent, to $58.89.

In percentage terms, mineral sands explorer Iluka Resources was the best-performing stock on the S&P/ASX50, having climbed 3.52 per cent, or 29 cents, to $8.52.

Still to come on Monday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics was due to publish retail sales data for October and figures on company profits for the September quarter at 1130 AEDT.

Wall Street closed flat - while the Dow ended up 0.03 per cent and the S&P500 finished 0.02 per cent higher, the NASDAQ eased 0.06 per cent.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,715.10 per fine ounce, down $US15.75 from Friday's local close of $US1,730.85 per ounce.

National turnover was 279.2 million securities worth $410.5 million, with 327 stocks up, 243 down and 264 unchanged.