THE sharemarket snapped a four-day losing streak as surprisingly good jobs figures added to investor confidence about the state of the economy.
The benchmark ASX 200 index posted its best day this month, closing at the day's high of 4280.6 points, a gain of 34.5 points, or 0.8 per cent. The All Ordinaries rose 34.4 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4361.7.
The economy added 44,000 jobs last month, more than expected by analysts. The result prompted investors to buy the dollar, propelling it almost US1? higher to above $US1.04.
Comments by the new Ten Network chief James Warburton that the advertising market was showing signs of reduced volatility helped spark a rally among media stocks. Ten shares bounced off a three-year low to close 2? up at 78?. APN News & Media rose 4? to 87?, while Fairfax Media (publisher of the Herald) rose 2? to 74.5?.
The CMC Markets sales trader, Ben Taylor, said that while the positive jobs figures helped, many investors remained cautious. "Given the volatility and the lack of people trading at the moment, I think it's going to take quite a lot before you see mum-and-dad investors dipping their toes back in the water," he said.
Seven Group said it had bought the local arm of US mining parts and services business Bucyrus for $389 million. Seven-owned WesTrac, the Caterpillar heavy machinery dealer, will take on Bucyrus's business. Seven rose 53?, or 5.3 per cent, to $10.34.
BHP Billiton ended 31? higher at $33.90, while Rio Tinto added 94? to $64.46.
The banks all ended higher, with NAB up 28? at $24.58, Westpac 15? at $22.05, ANZ 21? at $22.98, and Commonwealth Bank up 16? at $49.76.
Toll road owner Macquarie Atlas rose 2? to $1.685 after it said it expected more European and American motorists to use its toll roads.
PanAust rose 16?, or 5.4 per cent, to $3.13, after reaffirming its 2012 production targets.
Shares in Flinders Mines were in a trading halt pending the outcome of court action aimed at preventing the iron ore explorer's $554 million takeover by a Russian steel maker. Flinders last traded at 22?.
MEO Australia rose 3.5? to 34? after the oil and gas explorer said it had received interest from prospective customers to buy methanol from its Timor Sea project.