SYDNEY -- The S&P/ASX 200 Index
The Reserve Bank of Australia has held interest rates steady at 3.5% as the inflation rate dropped to its lowest level since the global financial crisis. The RBA commented that indicators suggest weakening in Europe and a slower pace of growth in China, with the U.S. growing at a modest clip. Looks like the RBA wants to keep some powder dry and leave itself some room to maneuver, should global economic conditions weaken further.
The Australian dollar faded slightly against the U.S. dollar but is trading at just more than $1.025 U.S.
Housing prices in Australia's capital cities have posted their largest monthly rise in more than two years, according to RP Data. Home values rose by 1% in June, with the median dwelling price across all capitals at $460,000. The rise appears to be on the back of last month's 0.25% interest rate cut.
In a similar vein, building approvals have posted the largest monthly increase since at least 1980, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Approvals for new houses and apartments rose 27.3% in May, well above consensus forecasts for a 5% rise.
Woodside Petroleum Limited (WPL.AX) today received Foreign Investment Review Board approval for the sale of 14.7% of its giant $30 billion Browse LNG project. Investors gave the announcement the cold shoulder, with Woodside's share price falling 1.8% to close at $31.25.
Winners and losers
As usual, no matter what the market did, some stocks fell while others rose. Suncorp Group (ASX: SUN.AX) and Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB.AX) both rose 1.5% to $8.33 and $6.25, respectively.
Among the big names, AMP Limited (NASDAQOTH: AMP.AX) gained 0.8% to $3.90 and QBE Insurance Group added 1.1%, closing at $13.48. Rio Tinto Limited and BHP Billiton Limited both rose, with Rio posting a 1.6% jump to close at $57.42.
Westpac Banking Corporation was the only bank showing gains today, up by $0.09 to $21.55, while Australian and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and National Australia Bank shares all posted declines.
A steady day keeps investors away -- actually, I just made that up, but it was a very quiet day on the markets. Bring on tomorrow, Fools!
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