AUSTRALIAN STOCKS GO NOWHERE: What you need to know

Shane Jackson riding Gold Medals gives chase to John Allen riding Twin Tea Bags before winning Race 1 at the Grand Annual Day at Warrnambool Race Club. Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Australian stocks closed marginally higher.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,279.10 +7.96 +0.15%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,344.50 +8.91 +0.17%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7503 +0.0047 +0.63%

The local market coasted to a small gain for the day backed by stronger financial stocks. The ASX 200 is up just 0.5% so far this week.

The NAB added 1.98% to $27.84, after posting good half year results, and the ANZ was up 1.77% to $25.34.

The big miners were mixed with BHP falling again, following a $58 billion civil suit in Brazil over the fatal mine disaster. It closed down 1.9% to $18.43.

Pure play iron ore miner Fortescue shed 3.2% to $3.03 and Atlas Iron lost 9% to $0.02.

The top stories Thursday:

1. Lower dividends and more cost cutting. Rio Tinto plans to cut its operating costs by a further $2 billion and reduce dividends by as much as half as the miner deals with a global fall in commodity prices. Rio Tinto shares rose 0.4% to $48.06.

2. Profits at Australia’s big four banks have slipped. Cash earnings came in at a combined $14.81 billion for the latest half-year, a fall of 2.5%.

3. But the NAB results show the bank in good shape. The bank has maintained its payout to shareholders and posted a strong first half cash profit of $3.31 billion, a 6.5% rise.

4. The budget 2016. A Coalition MP is currently ripping into his colleagues over the budget.

5. Buy the kids a house? Labor has attacked Malcolm Turnbull over the purchase of his daughter’s $2.7 million apartment, following comments from the prime minister suggesting that parents should be helping their children to buy a home.

6. That deficit will take longer to fix. Moody’s says this week’s federal budget leaves Australia’s finances vulnerable to shocks, including a downturn in the housing market and a sudden rise in the cost of borrowing.

7. Protect against the Zika virus. Australian biotech Starpharma says the active agent in its VivaGel condoms has been shown in laboratory studies to have potent antiviral activity against the Zika virus.

8. Who needs NBN? Only half of the 2 million houses with NBN access are using it.

9. A ride after the flight. Sydney airport is now allowing UberX cars to pick passengers up from the domestic terminal. Also read: Former ACCC boss Allan Fels has joined Uber’s global advisory board.

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