Aust stocks close little changed

Upbeat Chinese GDP data, hint of early US rate hike not enough to move local investors.

The Australian sharemarket has closed little changed, with investors unmoved by upbeat Chinese growth numbers and the hint of a possible early rate hike in the US if the jobs market continues to strengthen.

At the 4.15pm (AEST) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 7.6 points, or 0.14%, to 5,518.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index inched up 8.8 points, or 0.16%, to 5,504.5 points.

IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said although many commentators found US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's testimony consistent with her previous comments, he heard "a slight hawkish turn".

"If you look at Dr Yellen’s comments that the labour market ‘continues to improve more quickly than anticipated’ and if you add in the view that rate hikes would occur ‘sooner and more rapid’ than expected, there are signs the first quarter [of next year] could be a realistic date," Mr Weston said. 

"The trend of above 200,000 monthly payrolls could have the positive feedback loop that it transcends more quickly into real wages, which of course is the key trigger for the Fed to look to target higher short-term rates and alter the dynamics of global markets.

"The fact that the Fed are now focusing on specific areas of the stockmarket also throws weight to the view that they are thinking of financial stability and areas that could really be affected when rates move."

Meanwhile, Chinese second-quarter GDP printed at 7.5%, slightly beating expectations, as the world's second-largest economy continues to show signs of stabilisation on the back of recent targeted infrastructure spending.

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