The New Zealand dollar rose today on better than expected jobs data and it also gained against the Australian dollar when economic data across the Tasman was disappointing.

The NZ dollar was at US79.15c at 5pm from US79.02c at 8am and US79.21c at 5pm yesterday.

It rose to A73.76c at 5pm from A73.61c at 8am and A73.21c at 5pm yesterday. It had slipped below A73c overnight for the first time in five weeks.

It has fallen from a three-year high near US81.20c which it reached early on Tuesday.

"We have basically danced between US78.90c and US79.40c which is a fairly narrow range," one dealer said.

Globally volatile commodity prices have spooked investors and weighed on equity markets.

But the NZ dollar rose about 30 basis points when the New Zealand unemployment rate for the first quarter came in below the 6.7 per cent expected at 6.6 per cent. Employment was stronger than expected, surging 1.4 per cent.

"While the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will also likely note the strength in today's figures, we believe it will want to see broader evidence of labour market improvement before it would consider altering its view of the outlook," Philip Borkin at Goldman Sachs & Partners New Zealand said. "We continue to look for hikes to resume in the first quarter of 2012 with a 50 basis point move."

Australian retail sales dropped in March when the market had been positioned for a rise. The Australian dollar fell and was US$1.0730 at 5pm from US$1.0816 at the same time yesterday.

Investors are also waiting for US non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

The NZ dollar was at 0.5324 euro at 5pm from 0.5351 yesterday and was at 63.59 yen from 64.10 yen.

The trade weighted index fell to 67.46 from 67.56 yesterday.

- NZPA