Aust shares open higher

The Australian share market has opened higher, led by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton on the back of higher commodity prices and a weaker Australian dollar.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.5 per cent in early trade Thursday as investors flocked to mining companies after the iron ore price jumped more than eight per cent to $US70.46 overnight.

The miners and other exporters, including Brambles and Amcor, are also benefiting from a lower Australian dollar at 76.03 US cents, Macquarie Private Wealth division director Lucinda Chan said.

"Overall, its been a fairly strong open for the market... with materials leading and energy stocks up," she added.

Wall Street closed mixed overnight, with the Dow Jones up 0.28 per cent but Nasdaq down 0.51 per cent following the Federal Open Market Committee's decision to leave the Federal Funds rate target range unchanged between 0.25 per cent and 0.50 per cent.

The UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.56 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei fell 0.36 per cent.

Rio Tinto jumped $1.00 to $49.42, BHP gained 53 cents to $20.18 and oil company Woodside Petroleum rose 52 cents to $27.97.

The country's major banks were mixed, with the Commonwealth Bank up eight cents to $73.84 and ANZ gained five cents to $23.93.

Westpac dropped 24 cents to $30.70 and National Australia Bank slipped six cents to $26.84.

KEY FACTS:

* At 1031 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 25.7 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 5,213.4 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 26.8 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 5,277.7 points.

* The June share price index futures contract was up 39 points at 5,193 points, with 11,832 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 483.5 million securities traded, worth $867.1 million.

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