Aust shares open higher

The Australian sharemarket has opened stronger after comments from Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens raised expectations of an interest rate cut in May.

Mr Stevens flagged the possibility of further cuts to the cash rate in a speech overnight in New York.

"The (RBA) board has, moreover, clearly signalled a willingness to lower it even further, should that be helpful in securing sustainable economic growth," he said.

The RBA's cash rate currently sits at 2.25 per cent, but the central bank is widely expected to cut the rate by a quarter of a percentage point at its May meeting.

IG market strategist Stan Shamu said the comments had provided a boost to the share market on Tuesday.

"The market here wants to see rate cuts, so if we get that signal that maybe a rate cut is on its way then the market will bounce," he said.

He said the key event to watch for the day would be the release of the minutes from the RBA's April meeting at 1130 AEST.

Mining stocks were among the best performers thanks largely to a rebound in iron ore prices.

Rio Tinto shares were up $1.14, or more than two per cent, after releasing its quarterly update, which showed a 12 per cent fall in iron ore shipments during the March quarter, compared with the previous three months.

BHP Billiton shares were up 70 cents, or more than two per cent, to $30.52, while Fortescue gained two cents to $1.91.

Among the major banks, the Commonwealth gained 56 cents to $91.89, while Westpac lifted 11 cents to $38.90, ANZ put on 25 cents to $35.89 and National Australian Bank climbed 26 cents to $38.59.

KEY FACTS

* At 1030 AEST on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 52.5 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 5,885.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 49.2 points, or 0.85 per cent, at 5,856 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was up 47 points at 5,874 points, with 7,876 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 270 million securities worth $623 million.

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