Aust stocks close at 5½-year high

Local market lifts slightly to close at highest level in more than five and a half years on strong US economic data.

The Australian stockmarket pushed higher today, closing at its highest level for more than five and a half years on strong United States data and easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

At the 4.15pm (AEDT) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.3% to 5,462.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 0.32% to 5,477 points.

The benchmark index eclipsed the February intra-day high of 5,461.7 points.

The lift follows stronger employment data from the US, as the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level since November.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said it was positive that the benchmark spent the day close to the February high.

"We’ve also seen modest gains in China and the Hang Seng, which have also contributed towards the slight rise in US futures," Mr Weston said.

"There’s still a belief we can see markets higher from here, despite some indecision seen in the daily charts."

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