Australia stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/ASX 200 down 0.31%

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At the close in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.31%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/ASX 200 were Nickel Mines Ltd (ASX:NIC), which rose 4.10% or 0.03 points to trade at 0.70 at the close. Meanwhile, Austal Ltd (ASX:ASB) added 3.57% or 0.07 points to end at 2.03 and St Barbara Ltd (ASX:SBM) was up 2.44% or 0.01 points to 0.21 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Resolute Mining Ltd (ASX:RSG), which fell 3.76% or 0.02 points to trade at 0.45 at the close. Perseus Mining Ltd (ASX:PRU) declined 3.66% or 0.07 points to end at 1.85 and Gold Road Resources Ltd (ASX:GOR) was down 2.97% or 0.06 points to 1.96.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Sydney Stock Exchange by 565 to 552 and 399 ended unchanged.

The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was up 6.18% to 11.23 a new 1-month high.

Gold Futures for February delivery was down 0.17% or 3.55 to $2,079.95 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in February rose 0.54% or 0.39 to hit $72.16 a barrel, while the March Brent oil contract rose 0.66% or 0.51 to trade at $77.66 a barrel.

AUD/USD was unchanged 0.20% to 0.68, while AUD/JPY rose 0.13% to 96.72.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.03% at 100.89.