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AUSTRALIAN STOCKS FALL TWO MONTHS IN A ROW: What you need to know

Brayden Elliott of Australia crashes during round one of the 2016 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Australian stocks closed the month weaker.

Here’s today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 4,880.90 +0.94 +0.02%
  • All Ordinaries: 4,947.90 +2.81 +0.06%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7138 +0.0011 +0.15%

The local market ended the day slightly higher but closed the month down almost 2.5%, for a total loss of 7.8% since the start of 2016.

Over the month, the market has been driven by global fears, a rout in banks and see-sawing commodity prices.

Today’s market was weakened by stocks going ex-dividend including Telstra and AMP.

The major banks were mixed with Westpac up 0.67% to $28.75 but the other three in the red, including the NAB down 0.9% to $24.19.

BHP was flat at $15.570, down just 0.13%, Santos was up 2.8% to $3.31 but Woodside Petroleum lost 2.45% to $25.35.

The top stories Monday:

1. Redundancies and office closures coming. Slater and Gordon reported a $958.3 million loss for the six months to December as the law firm marks down the value of its troubled UK business. Its shares closed 30% weaker at $0.58.

2. Back to core business. Cash Converters is returning to its roots, reducing its operations in the UK and closing its vehicle leasing arm Carboodle as it refocuses the pawnbroking business. Its shares closed more than 7% higher at $0.52.

3. Back to investment grade. Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Qantas, ending the airline’s two years as junk-rated credit. Its shares closed at $3.86, down just 0.26%.

4. Tiny company, big diamond. The Perth-based Lucapa Diamond Company just sold the 404.2 carat gem it found in Angola for $US16 million ($A22.5 million). The shares closed 2.3% weaker at $0.41.

5. Losses and a new boss. Drilling services company Boart Longyear has appointed Jeff Olsen, its chief financial officer, as CEO. Investors sent the shares 37% higher to $0.092.

6. Mad Max at the Oscars. The acceptance speeches of the Australian winners. The dystopian film has taken out six Oscars making it the most successful Australian film in the awards history.

7. The end of the housing boom? Auction clearance rates suggest Australian property demand is anything but weak. Also read: Australian home loan lending doesn’t appear to be easing.

8. Closing online liquor sales. Aldi, the German discount supermarket chain that’s caused massive headaches for Australia’s supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths, has suffered its first setback in 15 years of trading in Australia

9. Stress? We’re too busy for that. 3 simple strategies for dealing with stress at work.

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