The Australian market notched a fourth straight session of gains, driven by strength in the energy, mining and retail sectors. The ASX200 index was up 0.3 per cent at 5,861 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 0.4 per cent at 5,956 points.
Gains by oil and gas producers, miners and retailers offset falls in the financial, healthcare and telecommunications sectors. While Wednesday's gains were modest, the market closed near its highs for the day marking a significant shift in investor behaviour. In recent days, the share market has posted early gains before losing momentum later in the session.
Investor confidence had improved as fears of a US-China trade dispute eased, along with US tensions with Russia in Syria.
A rise in oil and iron ore prices helped lift the miners and oil and gas producers. Oil Search gained 16 cents, or 2.1 per cent, to $7.70, Origin Energy added 14 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $9.49 and Woodside Petroleum rose 33 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $30.72 after reporting a lift in first-quarter production and sales revenue.
BHP Billiton gained 14 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $30.07, Fortescue Metals added four cents, or 0.9 per cent, to $4.55, while Rio Tinto lifted 87 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $78.96 after its first quarter iron ore production rose eight per cent from a year ago.
The best performing retailers included Harvey Norman, which gained nine cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $3.44, Kathmandu added 10 cents, or 4.4 per cent, to $2.37, and JB Hi-Fi was 57 cents stronger, up 2.3 per cent, at $25.94.
Wealth manager AMP fell 10 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $4.45, continuing its decline since admitting to the financial services royal commission that it had lied to or misled the corporate regulator about its business practices.
All four major banks also lost ground, with Commonwealth Bank the worst performer, down 35 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $72.41.
The S&P 500 in the US eked out a small gain while the Dow declined after a volatile trading session, with weakness in sectors such as consumer staples and financials offsetting strong gains in the energy and industrial indexes.
Higher oil prices boosted energy stocks while transport stocks such as CSX Corp helped the industrial sector. But IBM's 7.5 per cent drop was the biggest drag on the S&P after the technology company's quarterly profit margins missed Wall Street targets.
United Continental gained 4.8 per cent and lifted other airline stocks after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
Trading was choppy, with the Dow swinging between positive and negative territory while the S&P 500 gave up most of its gains in the last few minutes of trading.
In late afternoon trade the S&P briefly lost ground after a Federal Reserve report said robust business borrowing, rising consumer spending, and tight labour markets indicated the US economy is on track for continued growth, with trade war risks being the one big outlier.
The Dow Jones fell 0.16 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.08 per cent, and the Nasdaq 0.19 per cent.