The likes of BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining surged as iron ore and gold prices rose, while gains for Telstra, Xero, Woolworths and CSL helped drag the index to a flat finish of 6681.9 points.
Tuesday’s session unfolded as Donald Trump and Joe Biden hosted rallies in the US ahead of a special election that could define the Democrat incumbent’s presidency.
Voting will continue into Wednesday (Australian time) to decide whether the Georgian senate seats currently controlled by David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will remain with Republicans. Just one seat will be enough to give the party narrow control of the chamber and a greater ability to block Democrat legislation.
A double win by the Democrats, meanwhile, will give them total control of the major organs of government and a pathway to enact a more radical pandemic support agenda.
BetaShares ETFs chief economist David Bassanese said the prospect of a Democrat sweep had preoccupied investors with little local corporate or economic news to speak of.
The UK going back into lockdown was obviously another concern, he said, though the imminent arrival of coronavirus vaccines continued to soothe nerves.
“Markets are trying valiantly to look through the ongoing surge in cases because of the hope that the vaccines will save the day int he next few months,” Mr Bassanese said.
“Even if the vaccines are delayed by one or two months markets will look through that. In terms of a short term economic hit, yes it will be painful. But markets have shown a tremendous ability to look forward.”
The major lenders were weak on Tuesday with Commonwealth Bank down 0.6 per cent at $83.23, NAB dropping 1.1 per cent to $22.69, Westpac 0.6 per cent lower at $19.52, and ANZ falling 0.3 per cent to $22.97. Macquarie Group ended 0.6 per cent down at $139.11.
The iron ore miners were strong. BHP rose 2.9 per cent to $44.30 and Rio Tinto lifted 2.1 per cent to $117.79. Fortescue Metals hit a new intraday record high of $25.33 and closed 1.6 per cent ahead at $25.19.
Gold miners sparkled, with Newcrest, Northern Star, Saracen, and Evolution each gaining between 0.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent.
Telstra finished 1 per cent higher at $3.04 and accounting software firm Xero added 2.9 per cent to close at $152.71.