Business confidence in Australia plummeted last month to its lowest level since April 2009 amid a weakening global equity environment and growing concern over the euro zone debt crisis, a private survey shows.

Business confidence fell 10 points to -8 in August compared with +2 in July, according to a National Australia Bank Ltd. survey of more than 500 companies from Aug. 24-30 that was released in Sydney Tuesday. The business conditions gauge, a measure of hiring, sales and profits, slid to minus 3 from minus 1.

Monthly employment growth in Australia averaged 2,800 from January through August this year, less than a 10th of the average of 30,500 job gains in the first eight months of 2010.

With the euro on the front stage, the descent of the Australian dollar was receiving less attention.  A break below 1.0300 could see a retest of parity.