Aust shares open higher

The Australian stock market is trading higher ahead of the release of key employment figures.

Local stocks started the morning in positive territory after three days of losses, helped by gains on US and European stock markets overnight.

CommSec market analyst Juliana Roadley said the market would be closely watching the release of June's official jobs figures at 1130 AEST on Thursday.

AAP's survey of 13 economists last week showed most expected the unemployment rate to rise 0.1 percentage points to 5.9 per cent for the month, but Ms Roadley said any positive surprises would help lift shares higher.

"If we get good jobs numbers, that should provide a bit of a boost to retailers and discretionary stocks because if you've got good jobs numbers that means people should be able to get out there and spend on a regular basis," she said.

Resources stocks were mostly higher, with BHP Billiton up 10 cents at $37.35, while Rio Tinto 37 cents higher at $62.51 and Fortescue Metals half a cent better off at $4.385.

The major banks were mixed, with ANZ down one cent to $33.17, and Westpac three cents lower at $33.82, while National Australia Bank had gained six cents to $33.33 and Commonwealth Bank was up nine cents at $80.88.

Education provider Navitas was 23 cents, or five per cent, higher at $5.09, a day after the loss of a major contract saw its shares dive 30 per cent.


* At 1030 AEST on Thursday the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had gained 7.6 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 5,460.1.

* The broader All Ordinaries index had lifted 8.2 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 5,450.4.

* The September share price index futures contract was three points lower at 5,411, with 6,275 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 383 million securities worth $451 million.


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