Australian shares gained more than 2 per cent Wednesday, sharing in the joy over unexpectedly good economic news from Germany and the United States. The ASX200 closed up 86 points, or 2.13 per cent, at 4,139. Optimism stemmed from a rise in a key survey of German business sentiment and a jump in US housing starts. The market took its cue from the 2.9-per-cent rise on Wall Street as well as gains in European markets. The French, German and Italian indices all rose close to 3 per cent. The market is still down 12 per cent on the year but is off a three-week low and could be starting the traditional pre-Christmas rally. The buoyant mood saw the Australian dollar climb back above parity with the US currency, buying 1.014 US dollars at the close.