The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has closed up 0.2% to 4,269.5, a reversal of yesterday’s 0.2% fall. Investors appear to be sitting on the sidelines following the Federal Reserve announcement of no new stimulus measures for the US economy.

The Fed did say its was ready to take action if needed, but it wasn’t enough for the markets and the Dow Jones Industrial Average subsequently fell 0.3%.

There could be “blood in the streets” if the European Central Bank take the same approach at their meeting tonight (our time), with investors likely pinning their hopes on more action and less rhetoric.

Retail sales figures have climbed by 1% in June from May, as government handouts and interest rate cuts have likely fuelled a spending spree on food, cafes, restaurants, clothing and footwear. Department store sales were strong, rising 3.4%.

The Australian dollar has fallen slightly against the US dollar, now buying 104.8 US cents.

Company news

In big news today, James Packer’s Crown Limited (ASX: CWN) has struck a deal to build a $1 billion hotel development at Barangaroo, on Sydney’s foreshore. Crown signed an agreement with the developer, Lend Lease Limited (ASX: LLC) earlier today, but said it will only go ahead if Crown gains approval to including VIP gambling facilities (in other words – a casino). Just yesterday, Crown announced that it was spending up to $568m to build a six star hotel at its Burswood casino in Perth.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) and its partners are facing stiff opposition to its controversial Browse LNG project, which would turn James Price Point in Western Australia, into one of Australia’s largest gas export terminals. Conservation groups have lodged a flood of appeals against the WA Environmental Protection Authority’s conditional approval of the project.

Winners and losers

Of the majors, Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and Alumina Limited (ASX: AWC) both posted 5% plus rises today, ending at $4.38 and 70.5 cents respectively.

Healthcare stocks were the losers, with investors most likely taking some profits after a strong run by the sector in recent times. CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) was down 2.4% to $41.35, while Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) fell 1.7% to $12.49.

Foolish takeaway

All eyes will be on the European Central Bank today as policymakers meet yet again tonight (our time). Investors will be hoping for stronger words and bolder action than that displayed by the US Federal Open Markets Committee last night.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in CSL and Woodside. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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