Australia created seven times more jobs than expected in February, a surprise result that helped keep the unemployment rate steady and take pressure off the central bank to cut interest rates. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday 71,500 people found employment last month, smashing forecasts for a rise of 10,000. UBS economist George Tharenou said the result, the best since 2000, "is clearly a strong result and shows that employment growth is tracking much faster than some people had been expecting". The bureau also said the rate of unemployment stood at 5.4 percent, unchanged from January and better than predictions for a rise to 5.5 percent. Thursday's figures also come just nine days after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates at historic lows of 3.0 percent, saying previous cuts were beginning to take effect. Macquarie Bank senior economist Brian Redican said the numbers were "extraordinary" and added: "With that kind of employment growth there is no rationale for cutting rates." The Australian dollar jumped to US$1.0367 after the data was released from $1.0307. However, shares in Sydney saw an early bounce before slipping into negative territory, sitting 0.92 percent lower, as dealers bet the central bank would not cut rates further at its next policy meeting. The huge rise included 17,800 full-time posts and 53,700 part-time positions, helping to offset an increase in the participation rate -- the proportion of people in work or looking for work -- to 65.3 percent from 65 percent.