Aust stocks close steady

Local market little changed ahead of tonight's European Central Bank meeting.

The Australian sharemarket closed little changed today as investors wait to discover if tonight's European Central Bank meeting will unveil fresh stimulus measures.

At 4.15pm (AEST), the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lowered 7.9 points, or 0.15%, to 5,436.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index slipped 7.1 points, or 0.13%, to 5,419.7 points.

The ECB's inflation expectations are likely to be lowered when the central bank meets tonight, IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said.

"The press conference is where we look out for a new, potentially four-year, capital injection into banks, in the hope to incentives them to lend to small and medium enterprises, or new measures to expand excess liquidity in the region," Mr Weston said.

"Perhaps we could get a more detailed discussion on quantitative easing, a fate that is now expected by many in the market in the next six to 12 months given the trajectory of inflation forces across the region."

Locally, official data released today showed Australia's trade balance swung to deficit in April, short of analyst expectations of a slightly narrowed surplus.

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