MELBOURNE - The Australian share market closed marginally higher on Friday after gains from the big miners drove the bourse into positive territory.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 25.7 points, or 0.7 per cent higher at 3672.3, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 29.3 points, or 0.82 per cent to 3615.6.

At 1615 AEDT on the Sydney Futures Exchange the June share price index contract was 10 points higher at 3675, on a volume of 19,154 contracts.

"We had a good lead from the US overnight and a rally in commodities, with a bit of confidence returning to the market," CMC Markets analyst David Taylor told AAP.

"The big miners had a huge role in lifting the market up today, Rio has had a fantastic day, while the energy sector has weighed a little bit on the market.

"The energy plays, particularly Woodside, are probably stopping our market from being up a little higher."

Rio Tinto put on $2.18, or 3.99 per cent, to $56.88, while rival BHP Billiton gained 23 cents to $34.01.

The local market opened over one per cent higher following a rally on Wall Street overnight, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 174.75 points, or 2.25 per cent, to close at 7,924.56.

The banking sector was mixed, with National Australia Bank gaining 10 cents to $21.09, Commonwealth Bank putting on 25 cents to $35.00, ANZ falling 25 cents to $16.55 and Westpac shedding 46 cents to $19.14.

Automotive brakes maker Pacifica Group, which shares remained untraded at 10 cents, expects the crisis in the automotive industry to worsen in 2009, after a dreadful year in 2008.

The retailers were mixed, with Woolworths putting on 31 cents to $25.50, Harvey Norman gaining one cent to $2.60, Wesfarmers adding nine cents to $18.79 and David Jones shedding five cents to $2.98.

A major shareholder of renewable energy firm Babcock & Brown Wind Partners Group (BBW) has called for the former Babcock & Brown Ltd satellite fund to be sold so investors can claw back value.

Shares in Babcock & Brown Wind shed four cents to 86 cents.

The media sector was mixed, with News Corp gaining 21 cents to $11.59, its non-voting shares putting on 17 cents to $10.07, Fairfax adding three cents to $1.025 and Consolidated Media Holdings losing three cents to $2.12.

Prime Media Group last traded at 53 cents, with the company completing the institutional leg of an equity raising as the regional television and radio group seeks to pay down debt.

The energy sector was mixed, with Woodside dropping $1.20, or 2.84 per cent to $41.00, Santos gaining 15 cents to $17.47 and Oil Search adding one cent to $5.57.

The spot price of gold was trading at US$933.30 an ounce by 1620 AEDT, downUS$1.60 per fine ounce on Thursday's local close of US$934.90 an ounce.

The gold miners were stronger, with Newcrest gaining 88 cents to $33.54, Lihir adding one cent to $3.23 and Newmont putting on 14 cents to $6.60.

Empire Oil & Gas was the most traded stock by volume, with 87.25 million shares changing hands, worth $918,233.

The energy group put on 0.1 cents to close at one cent.

Preliminary market turnover reached 1.99 billion, worth $6.34 billion, with 660 stocks up, 330 down and 257 unchanged.

- AAP