Investors have bounced back from lockdown gloom on the Aussie share market, but were warned the wide-ranging stay-at-home orders will dent national productivity.
The ASX on Wednesday regained most of its losses from the past two days, after a strong lead from Wall Street.
Investors spotted plenty of bargains in materials, financials and healthcare after coronavirus lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and South Australia weighed across the market earlier this week.
While the share market might have recovered at least momentarily, there were signs and warnings of economic damage to come.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the lockdowns would deal a heavy blow to gross domestic product for the September quarter.
Employment would be affected too.
Meanwhile the Aussie dollar continued easing and fell to 72 US cents in the second half of the trading day.
However Investsmart market strategist Evan Lucas noted investors were not worried on Wednesday.
"The years 2020 and 2021 feel similar, but the market reaction is very different," he said of the pandemic.
"The market has learned recovery from lockdown is really fast, really strong."
The ongoing delivery of vaccines were also a factor in investment decisions.
"The market believes lockdowns are short-lived," Mr Lucas said.
"By the end of the year, the way we live with a substantially-vaccinated population will be significantly different."
There was enough optimism to raise the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index higher by 56.5 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 7308.7.
The index remains shy of the record close (7386.17) set in June.
The All Ordinaries on Wednesday closed up 55.1 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 7580.9.
The heavyweight categories of materials, financials and healthcare gained more than one per cent.
More upbeat earnings reports from the US reporting season helped decisions to buy, with the three major US indices gaining more than one per cent.
On the ASX, one of the big movers was Australian Strategic Materials.
Shares climbed 8.78 per cent to $8.05 after a deal with South Korean investors.
The $340 million deal gives the investors a 20 per cent stake in the holding company of ASM's rare earths site in NSW.
ASM's Korean metals plant will also benefit via an offtake agreement for its neodymium-iron-boron alloy.
Piedmont Lithium stopped trading due to impending news, but not before dropping 21.26 per cent to 68 cents.
The company produces lithium batteries used in electric cars.
Shares in electronics design software vendor Altium slid 5.04 per cent to $32.81 after US vendor Autodesk ended takeover talks.
Autodesk last month offered $38.50 per share for all shares.
Autodesk boss Andrew Anagnost said an improved offer was made but talks did not progress.
Lendlease has sold its services business to Service Stream for $310 million.
The property group has recently sold its engineering business and US telecommunications and energy operations.
Shares were up 2.1 per cent to $11.67.
The big miners were thriving. BHP gained 1.32 per cent to $49.89, Fortescue climbed 0.48 per cent to $25.29 and Rio Tinto was up 1.17 per cent to $125.87.
BlueScope Steel surged by 2.22 per cent to $22.08.
In banking, ANZ was best of the big four, which all closed higher.
ANZ shares rose by 1.21 per cent to $27.65.
The Australian dollar was buying 72.94 US cents at 1725 AEST, down from 73.16 US cents at Tuesday's close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 56.5 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 7308.7 on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed up 55.1 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 7580.9.
* At 1725 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was higher by 21 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 7247 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.94 US cents, from 73.16 cents on Tuesday
* 80.19 Japanese yen, from 80.22 yen
* 62.02 Euro cents, from 62.14 cents
* 53.64 British pence, from 53.69 pence
* 105.71 NZ cents, from 106.06 cents.