UPDATE: THE Australian share market closed on Thursday in positive territory, heartened by strong labour figures and solid trading in offshore markets.
- The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 45 points, or 0.99 per cent, at 4,582.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 43 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 4,621.3 points.
On the Sydney Futures Exchange at 1615 AEDT, the September share price index contract was 49 points higher at 4,587, on a volume of 28,373 contracts.
The market opened about 0.6 per cent firmer, broadly in line with the rally on Wall Street during the offshore session, and extended its gains during the day's session.
Bell Financial Group senior adviser Chris Kimber said the local market has been growing in confidence as the US looks less likely to fall into double-dip recession.
``As long as we keep seeing that the US is going in the same direction and not doing the double-dip, most of our industry leaders seem pretty comfortable that's not going to happen ... we'll get more and more confident (and) then we'll get to the upside,'' Mr Kimber said.
Market indices also reacted positively to the latest jobs figures, which showed Australia's unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent in August, beating market expectations.
In finance sector news, the competition regulator ACCC said it continued to object to the proposed tie-up between National Australia Bank (NAB) and AXA Asia Pacific.
AXA shares tumbled on the announcement and closed the day's trading 36 cents weaker, or 6.62 per cent, at $5.08.
NAB finished the strongest of the four major banks, up 89 cents, or 3.72 per cent at $24.84, while Commonwealth Bank rose 71 cents to $52.49, Westpac added 28 cents to $22.98 and ANZ was 27 cents higher at $23.76.
In the energy sector, Santos said it would sell 15 per cent of its $7.7 billion Gladstone liquefied natural gas (GLNG) project to the world's fourth-largest listed natural gas producer Total for $650 million.
Santos lost 96 cents, or 6.98 per cent, at $12.79, while among other oil and gas companies Woodside Petroleum rose 22 cents to $42.92 and Oil Search was six cents stronger at $5.96.
The two big miners finished the day in the black, with BHP Billiton up 27 cents at $38.18 and Rio Tinto gaining 46 cents at $73.90.
In other news, Virgin Blue's international expansion plans struck turbulence after US regulators knocked back the airline's proposed alliance with Delta Air Lines on trans-Pacific routes in a preliminary ruling.
Virgin Blue ended the day 1.5 cents lower at 43 cents.
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1637 AEST was $US1,256.3 per fine ounce, down $US3.55 from Wednesday's closing price of $US1,259.85 per ounce.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining rose 97 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $39.77.
The top-traded stock by volume was Baraka Petroleum, with 129.5 million shares worth $650,916 changing hands.
Baraka Petroleum shares rose 0.1 cents, or 25 per cent to 0.5 cents.
Preliminary national turnover was 2.42 billion shares worth $5.5 billion, with 700 stocks up, 346 down and 354 unchanged.
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