Shares on the Australian market were having their best day of 2021 so far after the Democrats secured power in US Congress, raising hopes of more economic stimulus.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 99 points, or 1.49 per cent, to 6706.1 at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries was up 95.5 points, or 1.38 per cent, at 6976.9.

There were gains of more than three per cent for materials and energy, while financials had a 2.55 per cent gain.

US markets closed mostly higher as vote results showed the Democrats claimed the final two Senate seats in Georgia, crucial to the balance of power.

The result could strengthen the hand of President-elect Joe Biden in pushing through policies such as more fiscal spending and higher taxes.

BK Asset Management managing director Kathy Lien said investors were focused on the immediate future of more stimulus.

ASX investors do not appear to be troubled by the mob of Trump supporters who forced their way into the US Capitol and delayed Congress from certifying November’s election result.

There was good news for the Australian housing market. Building approvals of private sector houses rose for the fifth consecutive month in November and were at the highest level in more than 20 years.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show total dwelling approvals rose 2.6 per cent in November to 17,205, but private sector houses rose by a further 6.1 per cent to 11,489.

Private house approvals stand 33.6 per cent higher than a year earlier.

In daily coronavirus infection figures, NSW and Victoria recorded zero cases.

On the ASX, Galaxy Resources was among the biggest movers early and leapt 7.6 per cent to $2.83.

Galaxy produces lithium that can be used for batteries in electric cars, among other things.

The company’s shares have risen steadily since Tuesday as expectations grew that the Democrats would gain more power in the Senate.

Mr Biden favours alternative forms of energy, such as lithium.

The Galaxy shares remain below their record high of $6.55.

Payments provider Tyro said some of its EFTPOS terminals had lost connections since Tuesday evening.

About 15 per cent of Tyro EFTPOS terminals have the problem.

Businesses using the terminals have made fewer transactions, which the company estimated to be a five per cent drop.

Shares were higher by 0.61 per cent to $3.25.

Miners were having a great session. Rio Tinto climbed 5.3 per cent to $121.89, BHP rose 4.88 per cent to $46.37 and Fortescue gained 3.25 per cent to $25.86.

In banking, ANZ gained 4.28 per cent to $23.75, the Commonwealth was up 1.97 per cent to $84.54, NAB increased 2.61 per cent to $22.99 and Westpac improved by 4.07 per cent to $20.16.

Earlier in the US, the S&P 500 rose 21.28 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 3,748.14. The Dow gained 437.80, or 1.4 per cent, to 30,829.40. The Nasdaq fell 78.17 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 12,740.79.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.97 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 77.73 US cents at the close of trade on Wednesday.