A boost to the big mining companies from a strengthening iron ore price has pushed Australian shares higher.
For a second consecutive day, local investors managed to overlook a US budget deadlock, which has caused most major markets around the world to lose ground.
Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the materials sector helped lead the market's rise.
"It's the best-performing sector today with relatively higher iron ore prices," Ms Lee said on Thursday.
"We're also seeing a bit of window dressing as we look towards achieving the best quarter on the sharemarket in four years."
BHP gained 35¢ to $36.35, Rio Tinto added 98¢ to $63.39, Fortescue Metals was 5¢ higher at $4.91 and fellow iron ore miner BC Iron found 3¢ to $4.50.
Still, some investors are shying away from equities and putting their money into the bond market until the US budget deficit and the debt ceiling issue is finalised. Locally, the major banks recovered from early falls, with ANZ up 15¢ at $31.56, Westpac up 26¢ to $33.37, Commonwealth Bank up 37¢ to $73.21 and National Australia Bank 3¢ higher at $35.33.
Insurers also gained ground, with IAG up 7¢ at $5.92, Suncorp up 11¢ at $13.29 and QBE 12¢ higher at $14.74. Telstra, which has announced more than 1000 job cuts, gained 3¢ to $4.96.
Myer rose 1¢ to $2.68 and rival David Jones fell 2¢ to $2.97.
Harvey Norman fell 2¢ to $3.25 while JB Hi-Fi rose 58¢ to $21.50.
National turnover was 1.55 billion securities worth $3.9 billion.
The Australian dollar traded higher, boosted by risk sentiment in the Asian region on news that Japan may cut corporate taxes.
Late on Thursday, the local unit was trading at US93.89¢, up from US93.60¢ on Wednesday.
Analysts said the dollar was also helped by the fact the greenback is on the back foot, as the continuing US debt ceiling negotiations begin to take their toll.
The Australian dollar was also trading at 69.45 euro ¢, down from 69.47 euro ¢.
The price of gold in Sydney was $US1330.95 per fine ounce, up $US6.08 on Wednesday's closing price of $US1324.87. AAP