Shares of gold mining companies fell Thursday as the broader stock market rebounded on bargain hunting and the Labor Department issued encouraging US jobs data.

Only 395,000 people applied for jobless benefits last week, down from 402,000 in the previous seven days, the Labor Department said. Besides being a month-to-month improvement, the figure surprised -- and encouraged -- analysts.

"Recent stock market volatility and layoff announcements in the financial sector threaten to shut the door on hiring, but as yet the claims data have been encouraging and point to continued job increases," economists with the Japanese bank Nomura wrote to clients Thursday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Labor Department report sparked hopes that the US economy may avoid going back into recession, and investors who had been staying on the sidelines as equity markets tumbled into bear market territory recently started snapping up bargains, which lifted stock market indices.The S&P 500 rose 29.95, or 2.67 percent, to 1,150.71 in midday trading.

Also weighing on gold was the CME Group's decision to hike margins on U.S. gold futures by 22.2 percent. That drove down the spot price of gold.

The upshot was a retreat among many, though not all, gold and silver mining company shares. Kinross Gold Corp. (USA) fell 86 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $15.40, and Pan American Silver Corp. declined $1.11, or 3.8 percent, $27.97 in midday trading.