Aust stocks close higher

While the unemployment rate held steady in December, its trending upwards amid a shrinking number of jobs in the market.

The Australian stock market has extended morning gains, pushing 1% higher after reports of production lifts among miners and bargain hunting in materials names.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the S&P/ASX200 index lifted 1.21% to 5,309.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries increased 1.22% to 5,319.4 points.

There was plenty of news flow in the resources sector this morning, with Rio Tinto reporting a lift in full-year iron ore production, energy giant Woodside posting a lift in full-year production, and Fortescue inking a gas transportation agreement and contracting Monadelphous Group to build the pipeline.

IG market analyst Stan Shamu said resources stood out as the market outperformed the region today.

"The miners have raced ahead with some bargain hunting at play after recent underperformance, while the banks are only mildly firmer," Mr Shamu said.

"Today's gains are fairly broad-based, with cyclical names well in the lead."

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this morning showed unemployment held steady at 5.8 per cent in December.

The local moves follow strong Wall Street leads, as  the S&P 500 hit a fresh record closing high, after solid corporate earnings reports and an upbeat Federal Reserve report.

European markets also lifted after the World Bank raised its growth forecast for the global economy.

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