AUSTRALIAN STOCKS FADE: What you need to know

Fans gather at Luna Park’s Crystal Room in Sydney to watch one of the world’s most watched sporting events, the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Australian shares closed marginally lower.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,615.60 -5.98 -0.11%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,665.40 -7.08 -0.12%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7663 -0.0017 -0.22%

The local market tracked higher in morning trade then went on a long slide down to the close.

The banks, which led the earlier rally, lost ground in the afternoon. The ANZ closed down 0.2% to $29.03 but the NAB was 0.7% higher at $30.62.

BHP lost 1.1% to close at $25.91 but Rio Tinto added 05.% to $64.89.

Gold miners rallied with Northern Star up 3% to $4.11 and St Barbara 5.6% to $2.64.

The top stories:

1. Retail posts a weak result for December. In nominal terms, the ABS said sales fell by 0.1% to $A25.61 billion in seasonally adjusted terms, missing expectations for an increase of 0.3%.

2. Allphones goes into administration. The mobile phone chain, the largest independent telecommunications retailer in Australia, went into voluntary administration today.

3. NAB profits slip on higher wages bill, redundancy and regulatory costs. Unaudited cash profit, which excludes one-time items, for the three months to December fell 1% to $1.6 billion.

4. Job ads just increased at the fastest pace in well over a year. According to data released by the ANZ, job advertisements surged by 4% to 167,164 last month, more than reversing a 2.2% drop reported in December.

5. The divide between Australia’s rich and poor is widening. Income cuts, record high job insecurity and high rates of underemployment are putting stress on the finances of Australians.

6. Scott Morrison is forcing foreign owners to sell another 15 properties. The latest properties, two in Queensland and the rest in Victoria, bring the total number of forced sales to 61, with a combined value of $107 million.

7. Astonishing features of the current housing boom. The Australian house price surge, which has seen Sydney and Melbourne prices climb to record levels, is very different from previous cycles.

8. The Super Bowl. Lady Gaga delivered an already legendary halftime show. Also read: Here are the big plays and moments everybody will be talking about.

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