Commodity-based stocks have helped the ASX hit a new nine-week high, following the release of several encouraging earnings reports, while online retailer Kogan.com surged on strong Christmas trade.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 14.9 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 5,850.1 at 1615 AEDT on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries was 16.1 points, or 0.27 per cent, higher at 5,909.8.
The Aussie dollar has dropped, however, buying 71.52 US cents from 71.98 US cents on Wednesday.
Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said the market appeared to have taken its cues from China with little other direction, before meandering to a close.
Mr Weston said investors were most probably awaiting the start of the US financial earnings season for further clues on economic health.
“It’s been a bit of a lifeless market, we’ve seen it spend the last two weeks absorbing political news so earnings seasons will allow people to mark what exactly is happening out there,” he said.
“We’re in a tighter economic situation, so it is a boost of confidence to hear from people, from CEO’s about emerging markets, what their concerns are about the economy and consumer spending.”
Australia’s tech and property trusts had a solid session on Thursday, while shares in online retailer Kogan.com surged 22.15 per cent to $3.97 after it announced a solid Christmas sales period had offset dwindling iPhone revenue.
But it was commodity-based shares that proved the biggest lift for the market.
Woodside Petroleum, which announced a 43 per cent surge in first-quarter revenue on its Wheatstone LNG project, saw its stock gain 0.66 per cent to $33.74.
Santos lifted 0.84 per cent to $6.03, Origin was 0.56 per cent higher at $7.16, and New Hope Corporation leapt 2.25 per cent higher to $3.63.
Beach Energy was up 1.22 per cent at $1.66, and Oil Search shares rose 0.53 per cent to $7.64 after a positive progress report on its Pikka B well in Alaska.
Whitehaven Coal recovered from an early dip to rise 3.74 per cent to $4.71, after a mixed trading update that reported an 11 per cent increase in coal production, but a seven per cent decline in sales for the quarter.
Soul Pattinson lost ground, falling 0.35 per cent to $25.90, while Caltex dropped 0.19 per cent to $26.40.
Macquarie Group continued to outpace the big four banks, up 1.02 per cent to $117.18, ANZ following closest with a 0.74 per cent rise to $25.94.
Commonwealth Bank was ahead 0.3 per cent to $72.77 and Westpac lifted 0.27 per cent to $26.07.
For the miners, Fortescue Metals rose 1.79 per cent to $4.55 while South32 jumped 3.6 per cent to $3.45 after announcing it had nearly doubled its second-quarter metallurgical coal output and raised its production guidance for a major mine in 2019.
BHP was down 0.18 per cent at $32.87 but Rio Tinto rose 0.95 per cent to $80.40, and Alumina Limited was 3.06 per cent higher at $2.36.
Bluescope Steel turned around its earlier fortunes to lift 1.94 per cent higher at $12.11, but utility AGL dropped 1.99 per cent after JP Morgan downgraded it to neutral.
The energy company also suspended sales of coal ash from its Bayswater and Liddell power stations on heavy metal concerns.
Wall Street closed higher, with the S&P 500 supported by sharply higher US bank shares after some strong company earnings reports from Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.
Sentiment was also supported by the UK government’s defeat of the no-confidence motion launched by the Labour opposition following the previous day’s failure to pass Brexit deal legislation put forward by the British prime minister.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also revealed home loan approvals fell by 0.9 per cent in November, which was better than the market expected.