A fall in last week's claims for unemployment insurance in the US has led to a share market bounce around Asia which has also pushed the Australian market higher.

Economists are predicting that a further 175,000 Americans were put out of work in October, but this would actually be the best result in more than a year.

If the figures come in on, or better than, expectations then expect the US markets to go up, probably driving a rise in Australia on Monday, but if the figures disappoint it will probably put today's rally into reverse.

Major movers:
  • The major banks are having a strong session on the renewed optimism, with Westpac's 2.6 per cent bounce the best of the big four, and ANZ's 1.5 per cent rise the most modest.
  • The mining sector had a generally strong day, no doubt helped by the Reserve Bank's bullish outlook for resources. Rio Tinto closed up 3.9 per cent, while bigger rival BHP Billiton had a more moderate 2.6 per cent gain.
  • That was dwarfed by WA iron ore company Murchison Metals, which surged 14.1 per cent to $1.58.
World Markets:

The region's other major markets were generally slightly less enthusiastic than Australia, although Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was close.
  • In Tokyo, the Nikkei finished 0.7 per cent higher at 9,785.
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 1.7 per cent up by 4:45pm (AEDT).
  • The Shanghai composite index climbed 21 points to 3,176.
  • Singapore's main Straights Times share index was 1.2 per cent higher.
West Texas crude oil firmed slightly on the global economic optimism, reaching $US80.09 a barrel by 4:45pm, while Tapis (which more directly affects Australian petrol pump prices) also strengthened to $US82.25.
Gold remained strong at $US1,091.68 an ounce.
The Australian dollar also gained ground, as it has been doing on most recent bursts of renewed economic confidence. At 4:45pm it was worth:
  • 91.36 US cents
  • 82.85 Japanese yen
  • 61.42 euro cents
  • 54.98 British pence
  • 1.2647 New Zealand dollars


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