Business confidence has taken a battering over the past month, with conditions remaining very difficult and the tentative signs of a return to form all but drying up.

NAB’s Monthly Business Survey for April concluded that despite slightly less negativity in retail and manufacturing, activity across the board remains sluggish and new cracks are beginning to appear in the labour market.

And there’s no sign of any immediate upward momentum in the market, with forward orders, capacity utlisation and employment all very subdued and weaker.

The slump in conditions represents the worst overall state of play since 2009, with a deterioration in the labour market and sweeping job losses in manufacturing, wholesale and recreation all driving the continued deterioration.

Naturally, business confidence has also taken a buffeting as the conditions deteriorate, fresh from the upswell in confidence in March.

The loss in confidence comes as a result of less than robust figures out of the US, China and the Eurozone.

Freefalling commodity prices have also driven a slump in resources company confidence, which are now at their lowest point since the global financial crisis.

Overall, the survey implies an underlying demand growth of around 2 ½ per cent in the June quarter/