The Australian share market bounced from another Wall Street-inspired fall to finish marginally lower as Chinese stocks rallied on fresh stimulus hopes.

The S&P/ASX 200 index reversed a 0.4 per cent drop to finish 3.1 points, or 0.06 per cent, down at 5410.6 to shrug off the 1.1 per cent drop in the S&P 500 index.

Bargain hunting in large cap stocks attracted most of the activity and volume was 11 per cent below average as many investors preferred to watch from the sidelines until a bottom is reached in the US equity markets.

Chinese and domestic investors ignored a report from China's official Xinhua agency which said there would be no new stimulus measures and those anticipating one would be disappointed.

Last night US stocks fell for the third day led by a sell-off in tech and biotech stocks, while the Swiss franc and US 10-year treasury yields eased 2 points to 2.69 per cent attracted some safe-haven buying.

The Australian dollar was steady at US92.80¢ and government 10-year yields were little changed at 4.076 per cent.

Stoking uncertainty about domestic growth momentum, the NAB March business survey fell 3 points to below its long-run average.

The Shanghai composite index jumped 1.6 per cent as investors dived into bank stocks following reports property developers were buying stakes in banks.

Analysts were questioning the motivation for heavily-indebted real estate firms using scarce liquidity for share purchases, suggesting it could be to "cosy up" to bank managers in order to gain access to funding.

Gold was steady at $US1305 an ounce and copper was up one per cent at $US6700 a tonne.

The West Australian

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