The West

The Australian sharemarket pared early losses as traders shrugged off the slump in US stocks on Friday, wagering the selloff would be isolated to the high-flying tech sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index opened 0.4 per cent down and closed 9.1 points, or 0.17 per cent, in the red at 5413.7 on volume 29 per cent below average.

This followed the "Goldilocks" US non-farm payroll report failing to deliver the hoped-for buying catalyst.

The consensus forecast was for 200,000 new jobs in the US but the "whisper" number was for a number in excess of 210,000 as the economy bounced back from the slowdown bought on by severe cold weather.

US Federal Reserve officials have said the bar was high for the Fed to pull back from tapering its bond purchasing program, so news that the US economy created 192,000 jobs in March was not well received by investors.

The S&P 500 initially reached a record high but fell to close 1.2 per cent down on broad-based selling, while the Nasdaq index tumbled 2.6 per cent as momentum-chasing investors bailed out of stocks trading at record prices and valuations.

The Australian dollar jumped 0.7 per cent to a high of US93.17 cents but slipped back to US92.80 cents on further rumours the European Central Bank was "studying models" of quantitative easing.

The euro edged back against major currencies after the rumour was denied by an ECB official.

Instead of rising on Fed tapering, global benchmark 10-year yields dropped 5 points to 2.72 per cent, while Australian government 10-years fell 7.5 points to 4.079 per cent.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei index fell 1.6 per cent despite rising expectations the Bank of Japan would ramp up its asset-buying program, while Chinese markets were closed for a public holiday.

Gold jumped $US16 to $US1302 an ounce, copper lost 0.7 per cent to $US6580 a tonne and spot iron ore was up 0.2 per cent at $US115.70 a tonne on Friday.

The West Australian

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