AUSTRALIAN STOCKS GO NOWHERE: What you need to know

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Australian shares closed marginally weaker.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,645.40 -7.76 -0.14%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,696.40 -7.60 -0.13%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7639 +0.0050 +0.66%

The local market coasted to a negative close after tracking higher most of the day.

The major banks were flat, with Westpac up 0.06% to $32.01 but the NAB down 0.2% to $30.40.

Among the miners, BHP was down 0.15% to $27.04 but Rio Tinto was up 0.22% to $67.19.

The Australian dollar hit a three month high of 76 US cents as Australia recorded its largest trade surplus on record on the back of better commodity prices and more production coming on-stream.

The top stories:

1. The dark clouds of Australian retail. Fashion icons Marcs and David Lawrence are going into administration.

2. The ATO down again. The Australian Taxation Office’s website was down again, following on from a series of outages in December.

3. That conversation between Trump and Turnbull on refugees. The US president reportedly believes Australia is trying to send America the “next Boston bombers” in “worst deal ever”.

4. A junior miner buys into a big lithium deposit in Africa. AVZ Minerals is buying a 60% interest in the 188 square kilometre Manono Project, said to be one of the world’s largest lithium-rich pegmatite deposits. AVZ shares closed 68% higher at $0.032.

5. Housing approvals slid in December. Total approvals slid by 1.2% to 17,327 in seasonally adjusted terms, down 11.4% on the levels of a year earlier.

6. Tabcorp’s half year profit fell 28%. Its profits suffered due to costs associated with the proposed merger with Tatts, its court fight against money laundering allegations and an investment in a startup in the UK. Tabcorp shares closed down 5.2% to $4.50.

7. Downer EDI lifted its earnings forecast. The engineering group is now targeting net profit of around $175 million for the 2017 financial year, up from $163 million previously. Downer shares added 13% to close at $7.07.

8. Working more than 39 hours a week is bad for you. Researchers at the Australian National University have a study on it.

9. WATCH: Handle, the nightmare-inducing robot.

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