US job figures lift investors but Greece still a worry

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday after better than expected US jobs figures boosted global sentiment for equities.

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday after better than expected US jobs figures boosted global sentiment for equities.

However, investors are still showing signs of anxiety over the debt crisis in Greece. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 44.8 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 4296 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index gained 44.5 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 4364.6 points.

National turnover was 1.78 billion shares worth $4.22 billion - 610 stocks were up, 389 down and 398 were unchanged.

IG Markets strategist Stan Shamu said trading on the local bourse had started strongly on the back of US data on Friday night showing a lower unemployment rate and stronger jobs creation.

"But, unfortunately, we haven't been able to extend upon those gains because of the ongoing Greece issues," Mr Shamu said.

"We're still yet to find anything from Greece. The latest reports are suggesting that the talks have actually stalled and it might extend to the equity markets today."

Greece is in talks with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank on further action needed to unlock a new euro zone rescue deal worth ?130 billion ($158.6 billion) pending since October.

The company reporting season gains momentum on the Australian market this week, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, News Corp, Telstra Corp and Newcrest Mining announcing their financial results.

BHP Billiton, which releases its half-year results tomorrow, was 61? higher at $38.21. Rio Tinto lifted $1.80 to $72.30.

The Australian developer of one of the world's biggest uranium assets, Extract Resources, improved 3? to $8.60 as it said it was still seeking alternative options after a Chinese state-owned company inched closer to making a takeover offer.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1734.77 ($1610.59) per fine ounce, down $US23.23 from $US1758 on Friday.

National Australia Bank, which releases its trading update today, advanced 42? to $24.17.

Investment firm Perpetual was 77? higher at $21.01 after its chief executive stood down because of differences with the board over strategy.

The industrial services company Spotless was up 7? at $2.50 after it gave in to shareholders' demands and said it would allow its private-equity suitor to cast its eye over the business.

Telstra, 4? better off at $3.38, is expected to report a double-digit increase in net profit as it expanded its market share and kept costs in check during the first half of 2011-12.

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