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SYDNEY, Jan 18 AAP

January 18 2013, 4:55PM

The Australian market has closed higher propelled by climbing Rio Tinto shares after its chief Tom Albanese resigned in the wake of the miner's $US14 billion worth of write downs.

At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 14.5 points, or 0.31 per cent at 4,771.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 15 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 4,794.7.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 19 points higher at 4,740, with 24,246 contracts traded.

Lonsec private client adviser Michael Heffernan said the Australian market's momentum had been led by Rio Tinto which posted strong gains after Mr Albanese announced his resignation.

"Australian shares have really been propelled by Rio," he said.

"I think someone has to take responsibility for what they've done over the last few years. You just can't set fire to multiples of billions of dollars and expect things to go on as they have before."

Rio Tinto shares closed 2.71 per cent, or $1.75, higher to $66.35.

The other big miners also closed in the black.

BHP Billiton gained 16 cents to $36.50 and Fortescue added 14 cents to $4.52,

The Australian market was off to a good start with strong leads from Wall Street and Europe as well as the Rio announcement.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday closed 84.79 points (0.63 per cent) higher at 13,596.02.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies rose 0.46 per cent to 6,132.36 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.58 per cent to 7,735.46 points.

National turnover was 1.577 billion shares worth $3.526 billion, with 543 stocks up, 408 down and 374 unchanged.