Stocks settle just below 5,000

The Australian market inched closer to 5000 with further gains in miners offset by selling among defensives.

Financials provided key support in a third straight lacklustre session that saw the Australian stock market again flirt with the 5000 level before inching to a near flat close, despite overseas markets cheering Ben Bernanke's comment that tapering of stimulus measures was flexible.

At the 1615 AEST official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.23% to 4993.4 points and the broader All Ordinaries index added 0.21% to 4,976.9 points.

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