The major markets in Australia ended higher on Thursday tracking the gains on Wall Street where the major indices ended in positive territory on optimism that the global recovery will be on course despite poor corporate earnings for the first quarter of 2009. The market shrugged off a weak domestic employment report and rallied along with the rest of the markets.

On Wednesday, the Dow closed up 47.55 points or 0.6% at 7,837, the Nasdaq closed up 29.05 points or 1.9% at 1,591 and the S&P 500 closed up 9.61 points or 1.2% at 825.16.

The announcement of a 154 trillion yen stimulus package in Japan to revive the economy and decision by the Bank of Korea to keep interest rates frozen at 2% on indications that the fall in the economic activity has moderated of late, also lifted market sentiment, overshadowing the economic data showing that jobless rate rose to a 5-year high of 5.7% in March.

In Asian trading, crude oil ended $1.49 higher at $50.87 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed up $0.23 at $49.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a smaller-than-expected build in crude oil stockpiles from last week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 52.10 points, or 1.44% to 3,672, and the broader All Ordinaries index advanced 50 points, or 1.40% to 3,617.

On the economic front, Australia's jobless rate jumped 0.5 percentage points to a seasonally adjusted 5.7% in March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said earlier in the day, hitting a five-year high. That was higher than analyst expectations for a jobless rate of 5.5% after 5.2% in February. The bureau also reported that the number of employed Australians decreased by a greater-than-expected 34,700 to 10,771,800. Most economists had forecast an overall job loss of 25,000.

Bank stocks ended mixed. Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 2.09%, investment bank Macquarie Group advanced 4.11% and ANZ Banking Group added 1.96%. However, National Australia Bank fell 0.88% and Westpac edged down 0.05%.

In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton gained 2.11%, and Rio Tinto advanced 1.87%. Gold miners ended weaker. Lihir Gold fell 0.66%, Sino Gold lost 1.92% and Newcrest Mining slipped 0.03%.

Oil-related stocks gained on rising crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum advanced 1.39%, and Oil Search edged up 1.92%, and Santos added 0.36%.

In the retail sector, David Jones rose 4.55%, Woolworths gained 0.79% and Wesframers edged up 0.80%.

For comments and feedback: contact