Richmond Rowing Club in Melbourne. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images for AGPC

The Australian market was flat.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,197.30 -5.55 -0.11%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,230.40 -4.18 -0.08%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7221 -0.0023 -0.31%

Stocks closed marginally down for the third session in a row, adding to Tuesday’s 0.57% fall and a 0.89% drop on Monday. Five sectors were down and five up.

The banks initially lost ground but recovered to close higher. The NAB was up 0.9% to $31.51. Westpac was in a trading halt after announcing a $2.5 billion rights issue.

The big miners were weaker with Rio Tinto down 0.9% to $31.51. Among energy stocks, which lost more than 3% as a group, Santos fell 6.8% to $5.18.

Gold stocks were brighter with Northern Star up 5.5% to $3.03 and Oceangold up more than 10% to $2.61.

The top stories Wednesday:

1. Westpac increases home loan rates. At the same time, the bank announced plans for a $3.5 billion equity capital raising. Both decisions were laid at the door of stricter rules requiring banks to hold more capital to make them safer. And here’s why Westpac’s move matters.

2. The French love their pizza. Australia’s Domino’s has strengthened its beachhead in Europe by buying Pizza Sprint, a chain in Western France with 89 stores, for 31.5 million euros ($50 million). Domino’s closed up almost 7% to $42.52.

3. Wine is back. Treasury Wine Estates is buying the majority of assets from Diageo Wine’s US and UK operations for $US552 million. The deal is part of a global change in drinking habits. Treasury shares closed down 3.8% to $6.57.

4. Banking at night. NAB’s busiest branch is a mobile phone, according to CEO Andrew Thorburn and thousands are banking in the middle of the night.

5. Australian consumer sentiment bounces back. The Westpac-MI consumer sentiment index.

6. A flight risk. Qantas has been warned that Dubai to London flights could be at risk of missile strikes.

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