Wall Street bounced back from a flat start, with blue chip stocks gaining for a seventh straight day.
Investor optimism about the US economy outweighed concerns about Italy and China.
Ratings agency Fitch cut its credit rating for Italy by one level, and is giving the euro-zone country a negative outlook, after its recent inconclusive election.
In China, data showed weaker than expected industrial output in the first two months of this year, but inflation at a 10-month high.
On the other hand, the VIX volatility index, also known as the Wall Street "fear gauge", has now fallen to its lowest level since April 2007.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 50 points, or 0.4 per cent, higher at another fresh record of 14,447.
The broader S&P 500 closed 0.3 per cent higher at 1,556, while the Nasdaq was also 0.3 per cent higher at 3,253.
European markets closed broadly down, but London's FTSE 100 rose 20 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6,504.
The German DAX finished flat at 7,984, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 per cent to 3,836.
Italian stocks fell 0.7 per cent, with the FTSE MIB closing at 16,092.
In local futures trade, the ASX SPI 200 index was up 7 points at 5,161 at 7:00am (AEDT).
On the commodity markets, spot gold was buying $US1,581.65 an ounce at 7:40am (AEDT).
West Texas intermediate crude oil was fetching $US92.07 a barrel.
Trade in Tapis crude oil in Singapore closed last night at $US116.53 a barrel.
The Australian dollar had strengthened against the greenback overnight.
It was buying around 102.82 US cents at 7:45am (AEDT).
The local dollar was also buying 68.89 British pence, 78.79 euro cents, 98.99 Japanese yen and 124.1 New Zealand cents.