Aussie business conditions deteriorate in March despite improvement in confidence: NAB survey

Business conditions in Australia have slumped to a four-year low in March, despite a slight rise in business confidence, a monthly business survey released on Tuesday by National Australia Bank (NAB) found.

The NAB survey showed business conditions fell four points to an index level of minus seven in March, the lowest level since May 2009.

However, business confidence improved one index point to plus two in March. A reading above zero indicates optimists outnumber pessimists among respondents.

NAB group chief economist Alan Oster said the March results showed business confidence had generally held up well, despite concerns about possible weakness in the mining sector.

The survey showed the sub-index covering the mining sector was at minus 25 in March, the weakest result in four years.

"There is little evidence that political leadership uncertainty at home has shaken sentiment, though general uncertainty about the state of politics may already be factored into the below-average level of confidence," he said in the report.

Oster said the slump in business conditions was driven by the continued weakness in the retail and manufacturing sectors.