The sharemarket is on the verge of reaching the 6,000-point mark for the first time since January 2008 as rate cut expectations boost the big banks.
Most economists surveyed by the AAP expect the Reserve Bank to cut the cash rate to a new record low of 2.00 per cent when it meets on Tuesday.
And, that's boosting financial stocks, Morgans senior private client adviser Bill Chatterton said.
"There's generally a view ... that GDP's (gross domestic product's) going to be fairly soft," he said.
"In that context, there's scope for the Reserve Bank to lower interest rates by another 25 basis points."
The benchmark ASX 200 index was less than 16 points away from touching the 6,000-level at 1015 AEDT, a point last reached during the global financial crisis.
Among the major banks, Commonwealth Bank had lifted 56 cents to $93.11, National Australia Bank had gained 21.5 cents to $38.535, ANZ was up 20 cents at $35.90 and Westpac was 50 cents higher at $38.79.
The mining giants were weaker as crude oil prices fell and base metals had a mixed night.
BHP Billiton was down 36 cents at $33.76 and Rio Tinto had fallen $1.20 to $64.40. But iron ore player Fortescue Metals was up two cents at $2.47.
The energy stocks were also weaker, with Woodside Petroleum down 40 cents at $34.90 and Santos losing eight cents to $8.
Department store Myer added three cents, or 1.8 per cent, to $1.685 a day after the resignation of chief executive Bernie Brookes prompted the share price to plunge 10.78 per cent.
The supermarket giants made gains after several choppy days, with Woolworths up 22 cents at $29.51 following its profit downgrade last week.
Coles' owner Wesfarmers was 26 cents higher at $43.56.
Meanwhile, Telstra had gained one cent to $6.43.
* At 1015 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 25.6 points, or 0.43 per cent, at 5,984.5 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 24.7 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 5,951.0 points.
* The March share price index futures contract was 28 points higher at 5,968 points, with 6,373 contracts traded.
* National turnover was 191.4 million securities worth $444.1 million.