AUSTRALIAN STOCKS SLIDE: What you need to know

A surfer dressed as Santa falls at Fistral Beach in Cornwall, England. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Australian stocks closed weaker.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,400.40 -43.62 -0.80%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,458.00 -44.63 -0.81%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7449 -0.0008 -0.11%

The local market only just managed to keep a nose above the 5,400 point mark on the ASX200 following a weak lead from Wall Street and a dip in stability in Europe after Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi resigned.

The big four banks all lost more than 1% with Westpac closing down 1.18% to $30.97.

Qantas shed 2.7% to $3.17 and Woodside Petroleum fell 1.9% to close at $30.35.

Shares in Bellamy’s were hit again following a sudden road bump in sales of its infant formula in China. They closed down 4.2% to $6.55 after losing 43% on Friday.

Murray Goulburn abandoned a deal with Mead Johnson on infant formula. Its shares added 0.5% to closee at $0.95.

The top stories:

1. Australia’s wages bill grew much faster than employment last quarter. Total wages and salaries paid jumped by 1.2% last quarter, leaving the year-on-year increase at 2.9%. Also read: It looks like service sector wages are starting to lift.

2. Job advertisements jump in November. According to the ANZ’s November job ads survey, total postings lifted 1.7% to 164,438 in November in seasonally adjusted terms.

3. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing makes a $7.3 billion bid for Australia’s Duet Group. The bid is for $3 cash a share, a 27.6% premium to Friday’s close of $2.35. Today the shares added 16% to close at $2.74.

4. Australia’s CEOs are getting better at holding on to their jobs. The tenures of chief executives at ASX200 companies have edged above the global average for the first time in five years, according to analysis by PwC.

5. 250 cancer patients needed to try medicinal marijuana. Doctors in Sydney work on a world-first medicinal cannabis trial to investigate whether the drug can reduce or prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

6. Blackbird Ventures co-founder Bill Bartee will head a new government fund. The federal government lured him from the startup industry to lead its $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund.

7. New Zealand prime minister John Key goes. After eight years in the job, he said: “A good leader knows when it’s time to go, and it’s time to go.”

8. Infant formula? Murray Goulburn, the largest dairy processor in Australia, has dissolved a strategic alliance with US-based Mead Johnson Nutrition to create baby formula for the Asian market.

9. Driving. Here’s what the world’s most expensive modern car, a $9.5 million LaFerrari, looks like.

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