The sharemarket again nudged above the 5000-point mark but fell away in afternoon trade to end only slightly higher.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 11.7 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 4993.4, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 10.4 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 4976.9.
Financial and energy stocks were the best performers, with other sectors mixed.
Energy company Woodside on Thursday reported a slide in revenue for the second quarter due to a drop in oil prices and lower production. Its shares fell in early trade, then rose to finish 1¢ higher at $37.46.
Fellow energy company Santos is scheduled to release its second-quarter report on Friday; its shares gained 32¢ to $14.26.
Among the banks, ANZ rose 15¢ to $28.95, Commonwealth Bank added 53¢ to $71.74, NAB gained 31¢ to $30.34 and Westpac climbed 28¢ to $29.68.
The market received a positive lead from Wall Street, which rose after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed's policy on tapering its bond-buying program was not on a "preset course".
"The ASX 200 again flirted in early-5000 territory at the open, losing momentum almost as quickly, and found itself plateauing for the rest of the afternoon to secure modest advances," CMC Markets sales trader Betty Lam said.
"Financial and energy stocks are finding the most support ... as they fight to keep the market's head above water."
Woolworths lost 37¢ to $33.32 after revealing its home improvement division would post a bigger than expected loss of $139 million in the 2012-13 financial year.
Rail operator Aurizon outlined more plans to cut jobs as it seeks to achieve savings of $230 million in the next two years. Aurizon gained 16¢ to $4.55.
Meanwhile, the dollar fell after Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the country's economy would be unlikely to receive a big stimulus this year.
Late on Thursday the dollar was buying US91.52¢, down from Wednesday's US92.08¢.
CMC Markets foreign exchange dealer Tim Waterer said the news reawakened fears of a slowdown in Australia's main trading partner.
"The Australian dollar's certainly very hypersensitive to any news coming out of China," he said.