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Australian shares closed the last trading day of the year lower but ended the calendar year well ahead.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,665.80 -33.27 -0.58%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,719.10 -27.59 -0.48%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7232 +0.0011 +0.15%

The local market slipped into the red in light trading on the last, and abbreviated, session of 2016 but ended the month strongly.

The ASX200 added 4% in December, putting the index ahead by almost 7% for the year. Including dividends, shares probably lifted around 11.7%, according to CommSec.

The best performer of the ASX200 companies for the year, according to Bloomberg, was gold miner Resolute Mining, up 424%. The worst was cancer treatment company Sirtex, down 64%.

Nine out of the top ten performers were mining companies whose share prices were boosted by rising commodity prices this year.

The best sector was materials, up 39.1%, and the worst was telecommunications, down 12.02%.

Today, the major banks and the big miners dragged in the market. The ANZ was down 1.49% to $30.42 and BHP slipped 1.7% to $25.06.

Gold stocks soared with Evolution Mining almost 10% higher at $2.12 and Oceanagold up 7% to $4.20.

Investment house Washington H. Soul Pattinson made a takeover bid for ethical investment group Hunter Hall whose founder Peter Hall resigned. Hall then sold 19.9% of the company to Soul Pattinson for $1 a share and said he planned to sell the rest of his holding, another 24.05%, to them.

Soul Patterson shares closed 0.8% higher at $15.13. Hunter Hall International dropped 4.6% to $3.10.

The top stories:

1. Super funds saved by the Santa rally. The returns from Australia’s superannuation funds, battered by a see-sawing market in 2016, made a strong run in the closing days of 2016.

2. Managed funds are sniffing at Hunter Hall. The ethical investment house, whose founder and chief investment officer Peter Hall just resigned, is getting takeover nibbles from more than one source.

3. The CEO at Shine lawyers is gone. Courtney Petersen has resigned after less than two years in the job.

4. All the awful things about 2016. Friend Dog Studios decided to collect all of the disappointments of the year and use them as the basis of a fake trailer for a horror movie.

5. Japan rethinks its attitude to work-life balance. In Japanese the word is karoshi, or death from overwork. The latest victim was 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi who worked for the Japanese ad agency Dentsu.

6. Rich people avoid one type of person. Author Thomas C. Corley researched the daily habits of wealthy people for five years.

7. This is why a woman chose to keep working when her husband retired at 34. It’s all down to a conversation they had while on their honeymoon.

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