SYDNEY, AAP – Australian shares were higher for a fifth day of the past six but were without the support of the commodity shares which have propelled recent rallies.

The market was better by about half a per cent and technology shares were best after Wall Street markets closed higher overnight.

Investors have not been scared by US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell a day earlier saying rate hikes following last week’s increase may be more forceful to stop prices climbing.

ASX technology shares gained three per cent. Afterpay owner Block was up eight per cent to $189.45.

There were gains of one per cent for shares in financials, property and utilities.


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The commodity categories of energy and materials, which were better on Tuesday, were down less than one per cent each.

The Brent crude oil price inched lower to $US114.83 per barrel as Western nations plan more economic pressure for Russia.

US President Joe Biden is travelling to Europe this week to talk to allies about Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 34.3 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 7375.4 points at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.

The index is about 300 points from its record high in August last year.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 40.1 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 7660.8 points.

In company news, outdoor clothing group KMD Brands posted a first-half loss blamed on higher freight costs and coronavirus impacts.

The operator of Kathmandu, Oboz and Rip Curl lost A$5.1 million in the six months to January 31.

Investors will still pocket a fully franked interim dividend of three NZ cents per share. This is more than the previous interim payout.

KMD Brands was little changed at $1.23.

Respiratory care provider Fisher & Paykel forecast full-year revenue to be less than the previous one.

The company said the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was requiring less respiratory intervention, and a relatively mild flu season had unfolded in the northern hemisphere.

Operating revenue for the year ending March 31 was forecast between NZ$1.67 billion and NZ$1.7 billion. This would be down from NZ$1.97 billion 12 months ago.

Fisher & Paykel was down six per cent to $24.20.

Investors abandoned fashion group Cettire after founder Dean Mintz sold almost 10 per cent of company stock for $47.2 million.

Mr Mintz said the sale was a small portion of his stake and he would not sell more shares before the full-year earnings.

He retains a 56 per cent stake in the business.

Cettire dropped eight per cent to $1.41.

Miners eased after strong gains a day earlier. BHP fell most of the major players and dropped one per cent to $48.03.

The banks were all higher amid expectations of a Reserve Bank rate hike this year. ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and NAB each gained one per cent. Westpac was up half a per cent to $23.72.

The Australian dollar was buying 74.54 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 73.88 US cents at Tuesday’s close.