Australia's big four banks have led the local bourse close to six-year highs, but there is concern that valuations are looking stretched.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose 15.5 points, or 0.3 per cent, to close at 5527.2, just 9 points shy of the six-year high it hit in late April. The broader All Ordinaries lifted 15.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5506.7.

The big banks did most of the lifting for the modest gain on the index, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising above $82 for the first time, before pulling back to finish the day up 0.3 per cent at a new closing high of $81.94.

National Australia Bank rose 0.7 per cent to $33.51, Westpac gained 0.5 per cent to $34.50 and ANZ added 0.4 per cent to $33.69.

Perpetual head of investment market research Matthew Sherwood said the market was getting ahead of itself and companies will still need to justify earnings, come reporting season in August.

"It has been an impressive recovery but the market has been provided with very little support from earnings growth and this remains the rally's Achilles heel," Mr Sherwood said.

"At present investors remain addicted to the stimulus drug from central banks, who seem very content to feed the habit and are unconcerned about the state of global balance sheets."

Expectations of economic growth in Australia hit a near three-year low on Wednesday, as consumer confidence continues to trend downwards.

The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months in the future slumped to its lowest point since late 2011.

Investors needed to remain focused on strong balance sheets and quality operating models, which could still deliver on expected earnings despite a tough domestic growth environment, Mr Sherwood said.

"Overall, it's very hard to see how you'd get a sizable lift in share prices, really investors are now caught in this world where valuations are elevated and they have to judge which companies have got the best operating models, which countries have got the best balance sheets," Mr Sherwood said.

Overnight on Tuesday, spot gold dropped 2.1 per cent to $US1264.95 an ounce. As a result local gold miners were hit by losses.

Newcrest Mining fell 4.2 per cent to $9.82, while smaller miners St Barbara and Resolute Mining both dipped 5.7 per cent to 16.5¢ and 58¢ respectively.

Qantas announced it will close its call centres in Brisbane and Melbourne, axing about 450 jobs. Shares in the flying kangaroo gained 1.1 per cent to $1.39.

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said he hopes the conglomerate can push into international markets through acquisitions, but told investors to be patient. Wesfarmers ignored the commentary, falling 0.6 per cent to $43.26.

Gambling rivals Echo Entertainment and Crown Entertainment were both shortlisted by the Queensland state government to develop a new $1 billion casino and entertainment complex in Brisbane. It isn't the first time the two have fought for the same contract, having wrestled each other for rights to build on Sydney's Barangaroo development, in which Crown ultimately won out. Shares in Crown jumped 1.7 per cent to $16.33, while Echo shares dipped 0.7 per cent to $2.82.

Ramsay Health Care named deputy chairman Michael Siddle as its new chairman, following the death earlier this month of founder and former chairman Paul Ramsay. Ramsay shares added 0.3 per cent to $47.77.

Stockland sweetened its proposed takeover of smaller rival Australand Property Group, up its offer to 1.124 own its own shares for each Australand security. Shares in Stockland gained 0.3 per cent to $3.88, while target Australand slipped 0.7 per cent to $4.23.

Rio Tinto appointed Alfredo Barrios as the new chief executive of its aluminium business. Analysts forecast the long-forgotten part of the business will begin to pick up its contribution to the global miner's overall earnings. Rio shares inched 0.3 per cent higher to $61.40.