MELBOURNE: Australian shares rose 0.7 percent on Wednesday, with banks and miners to the fore, but investors were cautious awaiting Wall Street's reaction to the re-election of USPresident Barack Obama.
Retailers declined after policymakers left Australia's official cash rate unchanged this week.
"Local investors were trading in non-committal fashion today until we see what verdict Wall Street delivers in response to the election result," said Tim Waterer, trader at CMC Markets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 31.7 points to 4,516.5, according to the latest data, a one-week closing high and the fourth straight day of gains.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.4 percent to 3,943.1.
US stock futures' reaction became less bearish as the vote counting progressed. S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.6 percent, having dropped as much as 1 percent earlier, pointing to a reversal of most of Wall Street's election day gains when trading resumes, but Asian shares rose amid relief that the result was clear-cut.
Investors will now turn their attention on US "fiscal-cliff" negotiations on spending cuts and tax increases, which kick in at the end of the year unless a deal is reached.
"The general malaise is bigger than either of those individuals. It's a substantial restructuring challenge over a number of years. I don't think there are any quick fixes," said Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager at Pengana Capital.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.6 percent to A$57.80, its best close since mid-2010, after it said first-quarter cash earnings rose 6 percent to A$1.85 billion.
Macquarie Group gained 1.7 percent to A$31.74 after agreeing a home loan distribution deal with Yellow Brick Road , aiming to compete with the nation's big four banks.
BHP Billiton rose 0.5 percent to A$34.98 on strength in copper and iron ore prices.
The top global miner has started hunting for a new chief executive in a process that could take one to two years, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. BHP declined to comment on the specifics in the report, but said succession planning was an ongoing process.
Downer EDI rose 5.9 percent to A$3.62 after it said its Waratah project was a substantially lower risk to the business and it mainitained guidance of net profit after tax of A$210 million.
News Corp rose 3.2 percent to A$24.10 after quarterly profit beat analyst expectations, helped by growth at cable television networks such as Fox News Channel and FX.
Retailer Harvey Norman fell 2.2 percent to A$1.81, a record closing low, after it said same-store sales fell 7.8 percent in the three months to Sept. 30, indicating a quarterly fall in profit of 20 percent.