The Australian share market closed higher as gains among the major miners supported the local bourse.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 19.5 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,916.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 19.6 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,926.8 points.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange the June share price index contract was four points higher at 4,927 points on volume of 16,585 contracts.

IG Markets dealer Chris Weston said the market had a rally going into the afternoon.

"It's all about the miners today," Mr Weston said.

"We knew at the beginning of the day, given the leads from offshore, that the miners were going to put in a stellar performance.

"But we were hoping to see the market underpinned with a little bit of strength in the financials.

"The banking sector today is flat."

Resources giant BHP Billiton gained $1.03, or 2.37 per cent, to $44.41, while Rio Tinto added 86 cents or 1.1 per cent to $79.25.

In news on Tuesday, BHP Billiton is seen to have had a "significant win" by getting Asian steel mills to agree to shorter-term iron ore contracts, an analyst says.

On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 45.5 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 10,895.86, while the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 6.63 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 1,173.22.

The tech-laden Nasdaq composite added 9.23 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 2,404.36 points.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is considering a probe into Rio Tinto in the wake of the Stern Hu bribery case although the Australian Securities Exchange says it has no issue with the miner.

Nufarm says it will diversify its range of glyphosate products to avoid a repeat of big losses arising from a fall in prices for the weed killer in the first half of the company's 2009/10 fiscal year.

Nufarm lost 56 cents, or 6.45 per cent, to $8.12.

APN News & Media fell two cents to $2.30 after it said that business conditions in early 2010 were beginning to return to more normal patterns that existed before the global financial crisis.

The Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) on Tuesday told the Full Bench of the Federal Court that the court's earlier decision to dismiss CSR's application to put a demerger proposal to a shareholder vote was correct.

CSR fell two cents to $1.67.

Rural services provider AWB added 5.5 cents, or 6.15 per cent, to 95 cents after it agreed to sell its AWB Geneva business to United States-based Gavilon LLC for an as-yet undisclosed sum and to form a joint-venture with Gavilon covering AWB's Australian commodity management business.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says there has been no change to its deadlines for decisions on rival takeover bids by National Australia Bank Ltd and AMP Ltd for AXA Asia Pacific Holdings

NAB was in a trading halt, pending an announcement about the potential acquisition and last traded at $27.70, while AMP added seven cents, or 1.11 per cent, to $6.38.

AXA was in a trading halt pending the announcement, last trading at $6.35.

Among the other major banks, ANZ was two cents higher at $25.45, CBA was 27 cents lower at $56.77 and Westpac was six cents higher at $28.12.

By 1627 AEDT, the spot price of gold in Sydney was US$1,109.40 per fine ounce, up US$1.45 cents on Monday's closing price of US$1,107.95.

Newcrest Mining fell eight cents to $33.22 and Lihir Gold dropped one cent to $3.10.

Aspiring miner RTL Corporation was the top traded stock by turnover, with almost 117.98 million shares traded for $3.83 million.

RTL's stock firmed 0.4 cent, or 14.81 per cent, to 3.1 cents.

RTL announced on Tuesday that it had won the option to acquire a small, private miner based in Western Australia, with mineral interests in Mozambique.

Preliminary national turnover reached 2.28 billion shares, worth $5.42 billion, with 538 stocks trading up, 511 down and 380 unchanged.

- AAP