The Australian market finished the week lower with the ASX 200 index falling below the 5,700 level. The RBA left the cash rate on hold at 1.50% in their July monetary policy meeting this week, citing a mixed labour market, low wage growth and slowed GDP growth. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science downgraded the nation’s resource and energy export earnings by 4.6% on expectations of weaker commodity prices and weaker Chinese demand. The energy sector managed to stay out of the top three worst performing sectors despite WTI crude oil falling from US47 to US45 during the week after news that Russia has ruled out deeper production cuts. In company news, Galaxy Resources was one of the best performers in the ASX 200 index following an announcement that its Mt Cattlin plant has increased lithium concentrate recoveries and production. One of the worst performing companies was Fairfax Media after announcing it had ceased discussions regarding two unsolicited and non-binding proposals from the TPG Consortium and Hellman & Friedman. In global markets, Wall Street was lower during the week of the Fourth of July holiday. In economic news, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $46.5 billion in May, while disappointing labour market data for June was at odds with the possibility of a more hawkish Federal Reserve. The Fed minutes from the June meeting indicated that a reduction in the central bank’s economy-boosting $4.5 trillion balance sheet may start as soon as September. European markets were higher with bank shares rising on talk of interest rate hikes. Eurozone Composite PMI recorded the best quarter in six years, indicating that the outlook for growth remains strong. Asian markets were lower except for the SSE Composite Index which was supported by the Caixin China manufacturing PMI which beat expectations. The Australian dollar was lower against major global currencies this week as RBA Governor, Philip Lowe, provided a less hawkish statement of monetary policy than traders would have liked. The Australian dollar fell below US76c.

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