The West

The US Federal Reserve's market-positive minutes and solid domestic employment data were offset by a surprise slump in Chinese trade data, but the Australian share market held on to close at a fresh multi-year high.

Following the 1 per cent jump on Wall Street the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent at the open and showed little reaction to the trade. It fell 0.3 per cent on the Chinese data and closed 17 points, or 0.31 per cent, up at 5480.8.

The Australian dollar leapt US0.5 cents to $US94.30 after the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent in March following the creation of 18,100 new jobs, but it dropped back to US94 cents on the weak growth signals from China.

Government bond yields against showed little expectation the Reserve Bank would be forced to hike as two-year yield edged up one point to 2.595 per cent and 10-years lost one point to 4.06 per cent.

The unemployment rate was flattered by a drop in the participation rate, while the increase in jobs came from temporary jobs as 22,000 permanent jobs were lost.

"Given the messy details along with the monthly volatility in the jobs figures and the tendency for them to go through hot and cold periods, it's probably best to focus on the trend and it is showing monthly jobs growth of around 14,000 and unemployment rising only very slowly," AMP head of investment strategy Shane Oliver said.

"Overall, our assessment is that the Australian jobs market is not quite as strong as the last two months' data suggests but it's much better than all the headlines about job layoffs imply."

The Shanghai composite index was flat at the close of the ASX as the weak trade data stoked stimulus hopes.

Chinese exports tumbled 6.6 per cent in March and imports plunged 11.3 per cent as a combination of tight liquidity in China and loss of global growth momentum knocked trade with the world's second-biggest economy.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei index was flat after Japanese factory orders slumped 8.8 per cent last month, underscoring the weak global growth outlook reflected in the Chinese data.

Last night US stocks rallied after the Fed minutes quelled fears rates could begin rising in six months but did nothing to change forecasts its bond-buying program would expire in October.

Gold climbed $US6 to $US1316 an ounce, copper fell 1.2 per cent to $US6590 a tonne and spot iron ore rose $US119.40 a tonne yesterday.

The West Australian

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