Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Australian stocks fell for a third consecutive session, dragged lower by weakness in utilities and healthcare stocks.

Today’s scoreboard:

    ASX 200 5791.00 , -4.09 , -0.07%
    All Ordinaries 5835.40 , -5.13 , -0.09%
    AUD/USD 0.7667 , -0.0019 , -0.25%

The local market drifted to a weak close with little direction. Wall Street was closed for the President’s Day holiday.

The big miners were in positive territory with BHP Billiton, due to report results later today, closing up 0.98% at $26.73. Rio Tinto added 2.0%, closing at $68.99.

Strength in iron ore prices, closing at the highest level in over two years on Monday, helped lift Fortescue Metals Group to a fresh six-year high. Shares in the company closed up 2.72% at $7.17.

Among the banks, the ANZ was down 0.84% to $30.62 but the NAB was up 0.82% at $31.94. Shares in CBA and Westpac closed flat.

Mining services company Bradken, reporting flat conditions, posted a first-half loss of $36.7 million. Its shares closed up 0.31% at $3.24.

Across all sectors, Utilities was the weakest performer, closing down 0.90%.

The top stories:

1. The ATO has put tech companies on notice for false R&D tax incentive claims. he agency put out two fresh “taxpayer alerts” regarding the practice.

2. Seven in the red. The Seven Group, billionaire Kerry Stoke’s ASX-listed diversified investment company, posted a $41 million loss for the half year to December.

3. SEEK’s profits are down. Without significant items, the profit would have increased 11% to $113.6 million in the six months to December. Also read: What SEEK founder Andrew Bassat would study if he were at uni now.

4. Fairfax is about to make an announcement on Domain. A spin-off is expected when the company announces its half year results.

5. SEEK founder Andrew Bassat on what he would study if he were at uni now. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

6. Wormholes are coming to Australian offices. The evolution of the cool office, or the race to create the dream work environment, is about to get a tech makeover in Australia this year.

7. Greencross proves that Australians will always spend money on their pets. Greencross, the Australian petcare group, today posted a 17% lift in half year profit to $21.9 million.

8. The first licence to legally grow marijuana in Australia. Medical marijuana businesses Cann Group won a permit from the Office of Drug Control.

ASX 200 5-minute chart

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