Gains modest before US payroll data

The Australian sharemarket has ended a week of extreme volatility with a gain of about 1 per cent, despite low volumes before the release of US employment figures.

The Australian sharemarket has ended a week of extreme volatility with a gain of about 1 per cent, despite low volumes before the release of US employment figures.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 47 points, or 0.98 per cent, at 4841.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 45.4 points, or 0.95 per cent, at 4826.4.

On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was 55 points higher at 4802 with 16,030 contracts traded.

Over the week, the ASX 200 index gained a modest 39 points, with sentiment buffeted by the downdraft of the Australian dollar in foreign exchange trading, which kept many investors sidelined.

In foreign exchange trading on Friday, the Australian dollar consolidated its modest gains on Thursday when it was buoyed by confirmation of continued loose monetary policy in Europe.

"The Aussie managed to emerge a little stronger after the European Central Bank and Bank of England both indicated that they were inclined to loosen policy as needed," said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac.

The US payroll data was "always a lottery as far as the number that hits the screens", he added.

In trading late on Friday afternoon, the Australian dollar was steady at US91.38¢.

Gold was steady at $US1239.27 an ounce, winning some support on renewed unrest in Egypt and Portugal's travails.

Echo Entertainment, which operates a casino in Sydney, fell a hefty 15¢ to $2.76, hurt by the NSW government's plans to allow a second casino to operate in the city. Crown, the operator of the planned second casino, gained 39¢ to $12.60.

Virgin slipped 1¢ to 43.5¢, following a decline in passenger numbers in May.

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