Australian shares are firmer, despite bank stocks being mixed as investors remain anxious ahead of the US central bank's expected decision to keep tapering its stimulus measures.
A surge in the volume of futures contracts is strengthening the market, CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said.
"What this tells us is that institutional fund managers who use futures to shape their portfolios and take their exposures are back from holidays," he said.
"It appears it's buying in the futures that's leading the market higher."
But the financial stocks are not doing as well as the US Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee continues its two-day policy meeting that will decide whether the central bank keeps tapering its stimulus measures.
The major banks were mixed. Commonwealth Bank was down one cent at $74.12 and National Australia Bank had shed four cents to $33.29 but ANZ was up five cents at $30.19 while Westpac had gained five cents to $30.83.
In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton added 43 cents to $36.74, Rio Tinto put on $1.03 cents to $65.34, and iron ore miner Fortescue Metals gained 11 cents to $5.26.
Oil and gas explorer Drillsearch Energy added 13.5 cents, or 9.44 per cent, to $1.565 after increasing its 2014 production guidance by around a million barrels.
But engineering firm Forge Group dumped 3.5 cents, or 3.89 per cent, to 86.5 cents after telling the market it expected to post a loss of up to $25 million for the 2013/14 financial year, following a string of writedowns and cost blowouts.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.56 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 jumped 0.61 per cent.
- At 1015 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 28.2 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 5,203.3 points.
- The broader All Ordinaries index had gained 28.9 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 5,216.9 points.
- The March share price index futures contract was 21 points higher at 5,154 points, with 7,907 contracts traded.
- National turnover was 230.8 million securities worth $414.7 million.