Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 bounced higher 0.38 percent with the energy sector adding more than 2 percent.

The country released employment data that came in above expectations: there were 21,600 new jobs created in December, beating analysts’ expectations of 16,500. The unemployment rate also surpassed forecasts, coming in at 5.0 percent as compared to expectations of 5.1 percent.

“The key message here is Australia’s labor market is still looking quite strong,” Paul Bloxham, HSBC’s chief economist for Australia, New Zealand and global commodities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” minutes after the data release.

“If you’re in Australia, there’s really no better time than now to be looking for a job,” Bloxham said. “There are more jobs out there as a proportion of the work force than ever before.”

The Australian dollar was at $0.7112 after touching an earlier high of $0.7166.