AUSTRALIAN STOCKS HOLD: Here's what you need to know

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The ASX200 was little changed in a quiet session to start the week, rising by 0.13% to close at 6,130.40.

Financial stocks — the biggest sector on the local index by market capitalisation — dragged the market higher as most other major sectors finished in the red.

CBA was the best performer among the major banks, climbing by 0.57% to close at $81.62.

Among the big miners, BHP and Rio were both slightly lower while Fortescue fell by 2.24%.

Listed electronics retailer Kogan.com — the best performing stock on the ASX last year — fell by 8.1% from a record high above $7 reached last week.

Today’s top stories:

1. Aussie dollar ready for launch: Analysts from HSBC expect the Australian dollar to close out 2018 above US84 cents, from its current level above US78 cents.

2. Gas exports on the rise: Following the completion of some major projects, Australia is set to become the biggest natural gas exporter in the world by 2019.

3. Beautiful life advice: A 27 year-old Australian woman who died who cancer last week wrote a moving post about how to get the most out of life.

4. Iran bans English: Following deadly protests, Iranian authorities have banned the teaching of English in primary schools and blamed the West for provoking unrest.

5. Joke cryptocurrency now worth $US2 billion: Doge Coin — a cryptocurrency based on a popular dog meme — is now worth $US2 billion and its founder is worried about frothy valuations.

6. Iron ore break even points: If you invest in Australian miners, this table is worth your time — it shows what price various companies need iron ore to stay above in order to break even.

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