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ASX Market Wrap: Rinehart sells Fairfax shares and Flight Centre soars

With European markets flat and Wall Street closed for the 4th July holiday, the S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) followed suit down just 3 points to close at 4,169.2, on a day of low volumes.

In local news, Gina Hancock has sold 86 million shares in Fairfax Media Limited (ASX: FXJ) to reduce her holding to 15%. In a statement released today, Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting said,

“The sale was completed to resolve an issue that arose concerning the Directors and Officers Insurance Policy, in the situation of a Director having a greater than 15% shareholding in Fairfax.”

Flight Centre shares have soared by 6.2% to end the day at $20.49, as the company shrugged off the weak retail environment and all its overseas operations produced consecutive profits. You can read more here.

Toll Holdings Limited (ASX: TOL) announced that it was selling its interstate linehaul and warehousing operations of its Toll Refrigerated business for $6.5m to Automotive Holdings Group. Toll is looking to sell off non-performing units, after slashing profit forecasts in May.

Virgin Australia Limited (ASX: VAH) has upped its stoush with Qantas Limited (ASX: QAN), ordering 23 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which are more fuel efficient and have less CO2 emissions than the planes they are replacing – the Boeing 737-700. Virgin’s shares added 2.7% today.

Winners and Losers

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) and CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) helped the Health Care sector rise more than 1.1%, with Cochlear climbing 1.4% to $65.99 and CSL adding 1.6% to close at $39.05.

Banks were in the green today with Commonwealth Bank of Australia  (ASX: CBA) , Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX: WBC), Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) all posting small rises.

Insurers Suncorp Limited (ASX: SUN) and QBE Insurance Limited  (ASX: QBE) both fell, closing down 2.2% and 1.1% respectively.

Foolish takeaway

All eyes will be on the European Central Bank and the Bank of England tonight, to see what the policy makers decide to do with official interest rates. Investors may be hoping for a cut in interest rates to spur economic growth, but with official UK cash rates already at 1.1%, the Bank of England doesn’t have much wriggle room.

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 More reading

Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in CSL, Flight Centre and Cochlear.  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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