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PERTH, Dec 18 AAP

December 18 2012, 1:10PM

Australian stocks are pushing higher as progress in the United States fiscal cliff negotiations led to gains on US markets.

At 1250 AEDT on Tuesday the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.8 points, or 0.74 per cent, at 4,606.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 31 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 4,620.1 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 38 points higher at 4,611 points, with 76,461 contracts traded.

IG Markets analyst Stan Shamu said progress in budget talks in Washington had buoyed investor sentiment.

"It's all about the fiscal cliff negotiations at the moment," Mr Shamu said.

"It seems there's some progress being made and people are looking more optimistic."

He said the ASX200 had pushed through last weeek's high of 4603 points.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 100.38 points, or 0.76 per cent, to close at 13,235.39 overnight.

Just two weeks remain before tax increases and government spending cuts, referred to as the fiscal cliff, take effect in the US if no deal is reached.

Locally, mining stocks had a mixed opening.

BHP Billiton was up 32 cents to $36.67 and Rio Tinto surged $1.10 cents to $64.62 while Fortescue Metals had gained seven cents to $4.54.

The four major banks were all higher.

National Australia Bank jumped 28 cents to $24.76, ANZ gained 10 cents to $24.59, Westpac added 13 cents to $25.88 and Commonwealth Bank was up 19 cents to $61.48.

National turnover was 891 million securities worth $2.1 billion, with 482 stocks trading up, 348 down and 314 unchanged.