SYDNEY - The Australian share market closed marginally higher, buoyed by the major miners, amid a quiet session because of the Victorian public holiday.

At the 1615 AEDT close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up nine points, or 0.29 per cent, at 3,154.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 10 points to 3,121.7.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March share price index futures contract was three points higher at 3,148 on a volume of 21,950 contracts.

CMC Markets senior dealer Dominic Vaughan said BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lifted the market on Monday.

"The market was held up by the two major miners and the energy sector," he said.

"Also we've seen a bit of recovery in the financial sector, mainly from ANZ.

"Overall, it has been a relatively flat sort of day."

BHP Billiton, the biggest company on the stock exchange, rose $1.47, or 5.32 per cent, to $29.12 and rival Rio Tinto gained $1.80, or 3.94 per cent, to $47.50.

Shares in insurer QBE Insurance Group pulled the local market lower during the day following a number of erroneous trades in the stock, which had it briefly trade at 0.4 cents.

The trades were quickly cancelled and the index returned to trading flat.

QBE closed down 70 cents, or 4.29 per cent, at $15.60.

Victoria was marking the Labour Day public holiday on Monday.

Rio Tinto said further development of the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia needed to be carefully planned amid the economic downturn, as the company awaited an investment agreement from the government of that nation.

Energy stocks rose after crude oil gained on Friday as US oil inventories fell.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery rose US$1.91 to settle at US$45.52 in New York.

Santos gained 52 cents, or 3.42 per cent, to $15.72, Woodside added 36 cents to $35.91 and Oil Search gained two cents to $4.83.

The banking sector was mixed.

National Australia Bank lost 77 cents, or 4.58 per cent, to $16.03 and Commonwealth Bank declined 36 cents to $26.64.

Westpac rose 20 cents to $15.90 and ANZ added 17 cents to $12.53.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was US$937.90 per fine ounce at 1627 AEDT, down US$0.25 on Friday's local close of US$938.15.

Gold miner Newcrest advanced 33 cents to $31.40, Newmont Mining fell 17 cents to $5.99 and Lihir Gold was flat at $3.15.

In other company news, Transfield Services and WorleyParsons have won a $90 million engineering contract for three more years work on a nickel mine in New Caledonia.

Transfield closed down four cents at $1.56, while WorleyParsons added 78 cents, or 5.25 per cent, to $15.63.

Fortescue Metals Group, Australia's third biggest iron ore producer, says heavy rain has affected mining and processing operations at its Western Australian mine.

Fortescue added four cents to $2.54.

National carrier Qantas lost 5.5 cents to $1.42, while Virgin Blue was steady at 18.5 cents.

The media sector was mixed. Fairfax fell 0.5 cent to 84.5 cents, News Corp lost 34 cents to $9.36 and its non-voting scrip fell 18 cents to $8.27.

Consolidated Media picked up three cents to $1.92, Seven Network added four cents to $6.11 and Ten Network lifted four cents to 68 cents.

The most traded stock by volume was Telstra, with 37.85 million shares worth $130.3 million changing hands. Its shares gained seven cents, or 2.18 per cent, to $3.28.

Preliminary market turnover was 920.59 million shares worth $2.76 billion, with 392 stocks up, 424 down and 278 unchanged.

- AAP