US jobs figures boost investor confidence

The sharemarket closed higher, but well off the day's peak, led by a rally from miners after better than expected US jobs figures boosted investor confidence.

The sharemarket closed higher, but well off the day's peak, led by a rally from miners after better than expected US jobs figures boosted investor confidence.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 26.7 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 5156.2, while the broader All Ordinaries added 28.4 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5133.8.

The resource sector was the main driver, with materials jumping 2.7 per cent. BHP shares gained 2.8 per cent to $32.87, while Rio Tinto pushed up 3.1 per cent to $56.20 and Fortescue Metals finished 5.9 per cent higher at $3.61.

Credit Suisse strategist Damien Boey said strong performances in commodity markets at the end of last week, including a 6 per cent rise in copper prices, helped the miners jump out early.

"People are looking at resources stocks and they're thinking: 'well they're looking cheap on a variety of metrics, and commodities prices seem to have stabilised. On top of that, maybe some of these miners might be able to free up some cash flow by freeing up their capex,"' he said.

To start the day, the ASX 200 surged 1.4 per cent, breaking through the 5200-mark, but the release of March retail sales figures and the ANZ job advertisements survey pared back much of the gains.

Seasonally adjusted, retail sales fell 0.4 per cent in March; economists were expecting a 0.1 per cent rise. ANZ job ads dropped for the second consecutive month, falling 1.3 per cent in April.

The dollar eased more than a quarter of a cent after the data releases, sliding from above US103¢ to US102.75¢ in late trading.

The RBA is due to deliver its decision on the official cash rate on Tuesday. Credit Suisse interest rate futures are pricing in a 52 per cent chance of a 25-basis-point cut.

Among the banks, results were mixed. CBA added 0.9 per cent to $71.67 while Westpac lost 1.1 per cent to $33.17, NAB slid 0.7 per cent to $33.50 and ANZ finished 0.3 per cent lower at $31.51.

Shares in Boral lost 3.2 per cent after the company issued a profit warning.

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