Mining behemoth BHP and biotech CSL did the heavy lifting on Wednesday, while an improved performance from the banks helped the S&P/ASX 200 record its best performance and highest close for a week.
All sectors gained as the local bourse added 61.3 points, or 1 per cent to its tally to finish at 5956.1.
Volumes were light as investors awaited the outcome of Thursday morning's (AEST) US Federal Reserve meeting and local jobs data for August.
There were solid gains for household retailers and tech stocks - particularly the buy now, pay later firms - while jobs and learning portal Seek soared 9.4 per cent on speculation investors were looking at a slice of its Chinese unit.
US markets set a positive tone for the day but unconvincing volumes both here and abroad suggested investors were happy to play it cool.
“Even though we’ve had gains across the sectors, investors are keeping one eye on the conclusion of that Fed meeting,” CommSec markets analyst James Tao said towards the close of trade.
“They’re looking for commentary on how long (interest) rates will remain where they are, and whether there is any more stimulus on the horizon. We’ve also got our own jobs numbers coming, which will be important in terms of gauging how we’re combating the pandemic.”
The local tech sector followed the NASDAQ’s overnight lead and delivered the best performance, up 2.4 per cent.
Afterpay was up 4 per cent to $78.03 while its payment platform competitors were also on the rise on the All Ords.
Zip Co jumped 6.1 per cent to $6.44, Sezzle was 9 per cent higher at $7.26, Tyro rose 4.1 per cent to $3.53, humm owner FlexiGroup jumped 1.4 per cent to $1.10, and Splitit rose 6.2 per cent to $1.55.
CSL added 1.4 per cent to $291.18 and lifted health stocks along with Resmed and Fisher and Paykel, which rose 1.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.
BHP climbed 1.4 per cent to $38 and Rio Tinto gained 0.6 per cent to $102.78. There was no such fortune for Fortescue Metals, which proved a major drag on the market with a 2 per cent drop to $17.34.
The banks were mixed but showed improvement on their more recent outings.
Commonwealth Bank added 1 per cent to $65.70 and Westpac rose 0.2 per cent to $16.76, while NAB was down 0.1 per cent at $17.15 and ANZ slipped 0.3 per cent to $17.30. Macquarie Group finished 0.8 per cent ahead at $119.62.
“The banks for the last little while have really underperformed the market,” Mr Tao said.
“I suppose when you have concerns about the economy, growth, home lending, and loan holidays coming to an end…. It adds a bit of pressure to the big financials.”
The discretionary retailers were strong with JB Hi-Fi - freshly upgraded to Outperform at Macquarie - rising by 2 per cent to $47.67.
Harvey Norman rose 2.1 per cent, Premier Investments 1.1 per cent, Super Retail Group 3.6 per cent, and Breville 4.3 per cent.
On the All Ords a positive trading update sent Kogan 6.1 per cent higher, while Temple and Webster rose 8.2 per cent, and Redbubble 7.9 per cent. Shares in department store Myer jumped 9.3 per cent to 24 cents, less than a week after it reported a $172 million full-year loss.