Aust stocks close little changed

Local market steady in cautious trade despite slight lift in business confidence.

The Australian stock market finished flat today after cautious trade on Wall Street overnight, despite a local survey showing a slight lift in business confidence.

At the 4.15pm (AEST) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 8 points, or 0.14%, lower at 5,510.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged down 7.8 points, or 0.14%, to 5,498.5 points.

The National Australia Bank's monthly business survey showed confidence was undeterred by the federal government's tough May budget, while conditions entered positive territory at their highest point since January. 

CMC Markets sales trader William Leys said the United States Federal Reserve's interest rate agenda remained a key talking point in offshore trade overnight.

"Market expectations of a first rate hike have been brought forward after some consistently solid employment data, and this saw investors take their foot off the gas," Mr Leys said.

"In addition, the impending US earnings season has prompted buying caution, as full valuations mean expectations are high, and with this scenario comes significant downside risk.

"The fresh leads out of the US have provided the local market with some food for thought, and this has set a cautious tone."

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