Better than expected jobs figures have encouraged investors to buy on the ASX, although shares were still lower.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was down 21.7 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6509.4 at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries lost 19.6 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 6706.9.

Australia’s jobless rate rose to seven per cent in October, despite the number of people in employment jumping by an unexpected 178,800 in the month.

Economists expected the unemployment rate to spike to 7.1 per cent from 6.9 per cent in September, while predicting a 30,000 fall in employment.

The ASX200 had been trading at about 6505 points prior to the news, and rose as high as 6513.8 in the following 30 minutes.

The index continued higher after 1200 AEDT.

The ASX fell from the opening of trade after US markets closed lower on continued worries that more restrictions will be needed to curb the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, South Australia has begun six days of stay-at-home restrictions to try and limit a COVID-19 cluster in Adelaide.

The cluster remains steady at 23 confirmed infections with no new cases reported on Thursday.

On the ASX, consumer discretionaries was the best-performing sector, up 0.30 per cent.

Health was faring the worst, down 1.21 per cent, while materials was down 0.43 per cent.

Market giant CSL lost 1.18 per cent to $308.83.

A court decision that means thousands of businesses crippled by the pandemic should receive compensation has prompted insurer IAG to suspend trading of its shares and others’ share prices to drop.

The NSW Court of Appeal ruled insurers could not deny pandemic-related claims, creating the possibility of huge costs for insurers.

QBE shares were down 4.22 per cent to $9.97.

Medibank Private dropped 1.02 per cent to $2.91.

Coles says industrial action at its largest NSW warehouse won’t affect grocery supplies at its stores in the lead-up to Christmas.

A spokeswoman said alternative arrangements had been made.

There was no change to the opening share price of $18.03.

Among the banks, ANZ gained 0.49 per cent to $22.12, the Commonwealth lost 0.11 per cent to $77.46, NAB edged up 0.31 per cent to $22.36 and Westpac rose 1.54 per cent to $19.75.

In mining, BHP was down 1.03 per cent to $36.45, Rio Tinto slipped 0.04 per cent to $98.08 and Fortescue gained 0.59 per cent to $16.99.

Earlier in the US, surging COVID-19 infections and mounting shutdowns were the dominant factor in markets closing lower.

The concerns outweighed news from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which said they had a 95 per cent success rate at the conclusion of their COVID-19 vaccine trial.

It comes days after Moderna announced a similar rate of success with vaccine trials.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 344.93 points, or 1.16 per cent, to 29,438.42, the S&P 500 lost 41.74 points, or 1.16 per cent, to 3,567.79 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 97.74 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 11,801.60.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.89 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 72.95 US cents at Wednesday’s close.