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

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Australian stocks closed marginally higher.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • ASX200: 6,023.90 +10.70 +0.18%
  • All Ordinaries: 6,103.10 +10.00 +0.16%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7574 +0.0016 +0.21%

The local market cruised to a flat close, still holding on above the key 6000 mark on the ASX200.

The banks were marginally weaker with the ANZ leading the falls to close at $28.67, down 0.5%.

The big miners were flat.

Qantas was up 1.5% to $5.36.

Retail Food Group said media reports about its treatment of franchisees didn’t “accurately” reflect the “strong platform for growth”. The shares have lost 30% this week. Today they closed at $3.08.

Top stories:

1. Speculative mania. RBA governor Philip Lowe on bitcoin.

2. The Westfield sale. The deal will the retail property businesses increased scale to buffer against disruption from digital players. Also read: 15 Frank Lowy quotes that give an insight into the secrets of his success. Westfield closed at $9.66, up 13.6%.

3. Escaping conviction. A former CBA financial planner who forged client signatures and cost the bank more than $2.2 million.

4. A glimmer of hope for the retail sector. Consumer sentiment, as measured by the Westpac-MI survey, jumped 3.6% in December, leaving it at the highest level in four years.

5. The housing market will cool rather than crash next year. Price growth is slowing, auction clearance rates are falling and housing finance is also starting to soften.

6. Gas prices. It looks like a shortage in Australia next year will be avoided but prices will remain high.

7. What economists expect from tomorrow’s US FOMC meeting. Financial markets are close to certain that the Fed will lift interest rates by 25 basis points to a range of 1.25% to 1.5%.

8. Like smoking three cigarettes a day. Beijing’s air pollution.

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