Key Points:

The Australian share market shunned a weaker Wall Street to close almost four per cent higher on stronger resource and banking stocks.

At the 1615 AEDT close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 171.5 points, or 4.32 per cent, at 4142.3, while the broader All Ordinaries added 157.9 points, or 3.9 per cent, at 4098.7.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange the December share price index contract was 120 points stronger at 4171, on a volume of 32,859 contracts.

ABN Amro Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop said he was cautiously optimistic the day's gains were the beginning of a recovery.

"It's certainly a welcome rally and it's getting some of the analysts very excited," Mr Bishop said.

"It would be nice to think (it) is the start of a modest climb. It is encouraging."

It is a good sign that market gained ground while it is in "limbo" as it waits for clarification of the federal government's funding guarantees to the banks, Mr Bishop said.

"It's a great start, and people are keen for any sort of good news, and this is the best news the market's heard for a while."

The major miners were among the day's biggest winners, with BHP Billiton rising $1.90, or 7.73 per cent, to $26.49, while rival Rio Tinto gained $3.67, or 5.86 per cent, to $66.29.

US stocks lost ground in volatile trade on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding 127.04 points, or 1.41 per cent, to end a tumultuous week at 8,852.22.

The banking sector was also stronger.

National Australia Bank gained $1.38, or 6.39 per cent, to $22.98, Commonwealth Bank rose $1.79, or 4.32 per cent, to $43.20 and ANZ Banking Group increased 88 cents, or 5.22 per cent, to $17.73.

Westpac was up $1.47, or 6.84 per cent, at $22.95 and its takeover target St George Bank added $1.31, or 4.61 per cent, to $29.75.

Macquarie Group shares gained 54 cents to $31.90 after announcing it would sell its Italian mortgages portfolio because of increases in funding costs, taking a $70 million after tax charge.

Paint maker Wattyl Ltd said it would cut jobs as it expanded its cost-cutting program aimed at offsetting falling revenue and earnings.

Wattyl shares fell late in the day to end steady at $1.07.

Atlas Iron Ltd says mining operations at its Pardoo iron ore project in Western Australia will be rescheduled to ensure its product remains competitive amid weakening demand for the steelmaking commodity.

Atlas shares lost 22 cents, or 20 per cent, to close at 88 cents.

The Singapore Telecommunications Ltd-owned Optus informed the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) it is planning job cuts, the union said.

SingTel shares dropped six cents to $2.55.

Rival Telstra added 19 cents, or 4.76 per cent, to $4.18.

Among energy stocks, Woodside lifted $2.31, or 6.42 per cent, to $38.31, Santos rose 97 cents, or 9.3 per cent, to $11.40 and Oil Search added 30 cents, or 8.8 per cent, to $3.71.

The spot price of gold was trading at US$806.00 at 1633 AEDT, down US$1.85 on Friday's local close of US$807.85 an ounce.

The major gold miners were down, with Newcrest losing 60 cents, or 2.64 per cent, to $22.10, Lihir falling 7.5 cents, or 3.81 per cent to $1.895 and Newmont off 20 cents, or 4.85 per cent, to $3.92.

Among the retailers, Woolworths found $1.55, or 5.86 per cent, to close at $28.00, David Jones rose 15 cents to $3.25, Harvey Norman added 18 cents to $2.72 and Wesfarmers lifted 53 cents to $20.47.

In media, News Corp gained 42 cents to $14.27, while its non-voting shares rose 33 cents to $14.02.

Consolidated Media Holdings edged up 6.5 cents to $2.02 and Fairfax added 10 cents to $2.12.

Valad Property Group was the most traded stock on the market by volume, with 104.26 million shares changing hands, worth $7.29 million.

Valad shares ended the day flat at 6.9 cents.

Preliminary market turnover reached 1.31 billion, worth $4.29 billion, with 459 stocks up, 525 stocks down and 291 unchanged.

- AAP