Aust stocks close flat

Local market little changed as Qantas, QBE dive; business conditions edge up.

The Australian stock market closed flat today amid mixed news, as a private survey showed business conditions edged higher and confidence slipped, while official data showed a lift in housing finance.

At the 1615 AEDT official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index inched down 0.02% to 5,143.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged down 0.04%, to 5,146.2 points.

IG market analyst Chris Weston said the financial sector saw better buying today, although volumes were poor.

"The data in Australia has traders scratching their heads as to whether it is supportive for banks or a headwind," Mr Weston said.

The NAB business survey showed conditions edged up to negative three points in November, while confidence inched down to positive five points, and employment conditions fell heavily.

"Add that to yesterday’s poor ANZ jobs data and the employment picture has just started looking less appealing," he said.

"Employment has to be front and centre now for the RBA, so today clearly goes to the economists’ calling for rate cuts in 2014.

"Of course from an equity perspective this actually reinforces the yield trade, thus this could be a reason why banks are finding buyers."

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