Unchanged interest rate bouys shares: Afternoon market insights

The Australian market was slightly up today after the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to keep interest rates on hold for the third month in a row – in line with analyst expectations.

The S&P/ASX200 gained in the first hour and a half of trading then gradually fell, dropping markedly after the 2.30pm RBA announcement, before recovering.

Australian resources, telecommunication services, and energy sectors improved, while healthcare and information technology services declined.

The S&P/ASX200 was up 0.26% to 4340.60. The All Ordinaries Index was up 0.24% to 4427.20.

The day’s winners

Ardent Leisure (ASX: AAD) rose 3.11% to $1.16 at 3.40pm. The company owns leisure assets including the Dreamworld, Whitewater World and SkyPoint theme parks.

Navitas (ASX: NVT) was up 4.75% to $3.75 late in the day. Navitas provides university programs for domestic and overseas students.

The day’s losers

Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH) was down 5.56% to $0.425 at 3.10pm. Virgin released its operating statistics for February today which showed an 8.5% decline in international passengers.

Grocery wholesaler Metcash (ASX: MTS) fell 4.65% to $4.10 by 3.10pm. Metcash announced 478 job cuts and more than $100 million worth of writedowns today.

Sector movers

The strongest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Telecommunication services (Industry) index which was up 1.96% to 1146.9 at 3.10pm.

The weakest sector was the All Ordinaries Gold (Sub-Industry), which was down 0.64% to 6079.80.

Currency

The Australian dollar fell today after the RBA left interest rates unchanged. One Australian dollar was buying $US1.0402 at 3pm.

Asian markets

Japan’s NIKKEI 225 was down 0.57%, or 57.40 points, to 10052.50 at 3.30pm AEST.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.48% or 99.21 points to 20621.50.

Asian financial markets were mixed today while South Korea’s won strengthened after positive data on China’s services industries was released and US manufacturing beat estimates overnight. The Japanese yen hit a three-week high which hurt Japanese exporter’s equities. Chinese markets were shut for a public holiday.

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