AUSTRALIAN STOCKS STALL: What you need to know

Koalas Jarrah and Iluka at Wild Life Sydney Zoo on Valentine’s Day. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Australian shares closed marginally weaker.

Today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,755.20 -5.49 -0.10%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,810.90 -2.00 -0.03%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7676 +0.0036 +0.47%

The local market tracked higher, supported by record highs on Wall Street, for the first half of the day before reversing direction in the afternoon to eat into Monday’s 0.70% rise.

BHP lost 0.9% to close at $26.21 and Rio Tinto was up 0.28% to $68.51. The banks were weaker with the Commonwealth down 0.6% to $82.63.

Cochlear fell 3.5% to $128.95 despite announcing a 19% rise in first half profit to $114 million.

The top stories:

1. Business conditions haven’t been this good since before the GFC. The latest business survey from the National Australia Bank suggests the domestic economy is strengthening rapidly.

2. Richard Goyder steps down. Departing Wesfarmers after 12 years heading Australia’s largest private employer. Wesfarmers shares were down 04.% to $42.13.

3. Woolworths is preparing for Amazon. Woolworths announced that it had decommissioned its in-house technology infrastructure in favour of moving its systems into Microsoft Azure data centres.

4. Your days of struggling for a pay rise may be coming to an end. Recent lead labour market indicators have been improving, suggesting that conditions are starting to strengthen after a lull last year

5. Treasury Wine Estates has doubled its profits. Profit hit $136.2 million for the half year to December as the company positions itself as as a premium quality wine maker rather than a bulk supplier. Also read: More of an American flavour. Its shares closed 4.7% weaker at $11.33.

6. Fairfax will keep printing its newspapers daily. Fairfax Media, which had been expected to switch its Monday to Friday newspaper printing to digital only, has given its hard copy mastheads an extended life as daily publications.

7. Furniture sales are defying the retail downturn. Nick Scali posted a 44.7% rise in half year profit to $20.5 million. Its shares closed 9.6% higher at $7.05.

8. Nick Xenophon team says it won’t support the budget bill. The federal government is looking at raising taxes and cutting spending.

9. A $2 million price tag for a one-armed robot bricklayer. Fastbrick Robotics hopes to be supplying customers with Hadrian X machines, the commercial version of the prototype, in 2019. Its shares dropped 1.1% to close at $0.089.

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