The share market has bounced back after three straight days of losses, rising by more than one per cent as international investors were encouraged by a rising Australian dollar.
The strong performance came despite a negative lead from Wall Street.
Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said one of the key reasons for the gains was a rise in the value of the Australian dollar.
"As the dollar moves up, that's really what international investors want to see when they invest in Australia," Ms Lee said.
"They tend to trade in the big stocks such as the big banks and BHP and Rio - that's where we're seeing a lot of the strength today."
National Australia Bank gained 49 cents to $32.63, ANZ added 41 cents to $29.43, Commonwealth Bank put on 99 cents to $73.48 while Westpac was 52 cents higher at $30.83.
BHP gained 29 cents to $35.57 and Rio Tinto added $1.06 to $65.65.
The news that Australia's trade surplus was $468 million in December, well above economists' predictions of a deficit of $1.2 billion, prompted the Australian dollar to jump to almost 90 US cents.
One of the market's biggest movers was Virgin Australia, despite saying it expects to post a $49 million pre-tax loss for the first half of the financial year.
Its shares gained 2.5 cents, or 7.9 per cent, to 34 cents, as the forecast was better than what some analysts had been expecting.
- At the close on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 61.1 points, or 1.21 per cent, at 5,131.4.
- The broader All Ordinaries index was up 58.7 points, or 1.15 per cent, at 5,147.4.
- The March share price index futures contract was 58 points higher at 5,076, with 27,848 contracts traded.
- National turnover was 1.3 billion securities worth $4.1 billion.