Better than expected profit results from international banking giant Citigroup fuelled optimism on markets in the United States overnight.
Citigroup posted a 42 per cent jump in second quarter profit, kicking off a week in which 76 listed companies on the S&P 500 index are scheduled to release results.
By the close of trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 20 points or a 0.1 per cent to 15,484 and the broader S&P 500 index gained 2 points to 1,683 to end higher for the eighth straight day, the longest winning streak since mid-January.
Mixed economic data including weaker than expected retail sales figures for June limited the gains, however, and trading volumes fell to their lowest level of any full trading day this year, with just 4.9 billion shares changing hands.
The US daily volume has averaged 6.4 billion shares this year.
Across the Atlantic, Fitch Ratings stripped Europe's temporary rescue facility of its top-level AAA-rating after markets closed.
(http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-15/chinese-economy-slows-as-expected/4820882) Chinese growth data eased investor fears about a sharp slowdown in the economy; official figures yesterday showed in the June quarter.
London's FTSE 100 index jumped 0.6 per cent to 6,586 and Germany's DAX added 0.3 per cent.
Australian investors were set to take their cue from Wall Street, with the SPI 200 futures contract at 4,962, pointing to a gain of 0.4 per cent at the start of the session.
In currency trade, the Australian dollar was holding on to Monday's gains after China's growth figures met market expectations.
At 8:35am (AEDT) it was buying 91 US cents, 60.3 British pence, 69.6 euro cents and 90.9 Japanese yen.
Buying by hedge funds pushed gold prices higher for a second week as comments from the US Federal Reserve Chairman lowered expectations for an immediate tapering of stimulus, with spot gold fetching $US1284.95 an ounce.
West Texas crude oil posted modest gains after investors weighed up economic data in both the US and China and was trading at $US106.15 a barrel.