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

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Australian stocks closed lower.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • ASX200: 6,016.00 -40.90 -0.68%
  • All Ordinaries: 6,117.30 -42.00 -0.68%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7792 +0.0003 +0.04%

The local market slumped following Wall Street where the S&P 500 index dropped 1.3%. The ASX200 closed the month marginally behind, down 0.36% over February.

Today the banks and the miners led the falls. BHP fell 1.9% to $30.50, Fortescue Metals 3% to 5.04 and Westpac 1.2% to $30.77.

Bega Cheese fell 6.4% to $6.86 after reporting a 31% lift in profit to $20.6 million for the first half but saying that the benefits of an increase in milk volumes won’t be repeated at the same level in the second half.

Hospital group Ramsay Health dropped 5.7% to $63.90 after posting a 3.7% fall to $246.54 million in net profit after tax for the half year.

Organic baby food and infant formula maker Bubs was down 12.6% to $0.83 after posting a loss of $3.53 million for the half year.

Top Stories:

1. Harvey Norman hammered. Half year profits were hit by a revaluation of the retailer’s investment properties and founder Gerry Harvey’s push into dairy farming. Harvey Norman shares closed at $4.01, down 12.4%.

2. The retail crunch. Australia’s major retailers are struggling to keep up with Amazon’s discounted prices.

3. GetSwift is being investigated by ASIC. The technology company facing reports of undisclosed contract issues has been asked by corporate watchdog to produce documents. Its shares fell 11% to $0.605.

4. Virgin Australia back in the black. Underlying profit before tax of was up 142% to $102.5 million, the airline’s highest in ten years, on a 6% lift in revenue to $2.8 billion. Its shares closed at $0.25, down 3.8%.

5. Tax breaks. New incentives to encourage angel investment in startups triggered around $300 million in investments in the 2016-17 financial year, according to Treasury data.

6. Regional airline Rex. Once again Australia’s most profitable airline. Rex shares added almost 4% to close at $1.70.

7. The big banks and fintechs. BrickX and Data Republic are the latest fintechs to score investment deals.

8. Bad news ahead. Retail Food Group, the company running some of Australia’s best known fast food brands, has gone into a trading halt.

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