The Australian share market has closed the week at a seven-week high, lifted by broad-based gains in most sectors, the strongest in health and industrial stocks.
Investors were buoyed by a string of economic releases this week, particularly labour force figures, which showed the unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 5.2 per cent in November.
The All Ordinaries Index rose 0.9 per cent, to 4,556, and the ASX 200 matched that gain, adding 42 points to close on 4,552.
Bureau of Statistics figures revealed the trade deficit widened in October, to $2.1 billion, but the result was better than economists had anticipated.
Exports were flat overall, while imports rose by 3 per cent in seasonally-adjusted terms, suggesting Australian businesses had been taking advantage of the strong dollar to buy overseas.
Meanwhile, the monthly Performance of Construction Index by the Australian Industry Group shows the decline in the construction sector eased slightly in November.
The banking sector led the gains, with Westpac and NAB both adding more than one per cent.
Mining shares rallied after a jump in the iron ore price overnight; BHP Billiton rose one per cent to close at $34.74, while Rio Tinto added 0.4 per cent and Fortescue Metals gained 1.3 per cent to $3.79.
Shares in Myer fell 0.5 per cent to $2.16 on the day the department store operator held its .
The ACCC says it is trying to streamline the way it assesses acquisitions by the major supermarket chains, to ensure they do not gain too much market power.
Coles has agreed to tell the regulator when it buys small supermarkets, but Woolworths says it will only do so at its own discretion.
Shares in Woolworths and Wesfarmers, which owns Coles, both rose 1 per cent.
In currency trade, the dollar is steady against its US counterpart; at 5:50pm (AEDT) it was trading at 104.8 US cents, 86.4 Japanese yen, 80.9 euro cents and 65.3 British pence.
On commodity markets, West Texas Crude oil fell overnight to $US85.50 a barrel and Tapis crude oil is lower at nearly $US112.30 a barrel.
The spot price of gold has also dropped, to $US1,703 an ounce.