The local share market and the Australian dollar lost ground today, led by losses overseas and the Reserve Bank's decision to keep the official interest rate on hold.

The Australian dollar threatened to dip below 104 US cents after the RBA decided to keep the cash rate at 3 per cent, in line with analyst expectations.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens says global risks have abated but local investment outside the mining sector remains subdued.

Economists are expecting a further cut in the first half of this year, which would take the interest rate lower than at the height of the global financial crisis.

Local shares and the All Ordinaries index finished the session 27 points lower, or down 0.5 per cent, at 4,903.

The ASX 200 index slipped 25 points to 4,883.

The losses were broadly spread but the mining sector suffered the most damage.

BHP Billiton fell 1.7 per cent while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group each lost 1 per cent.

But hearing implants company Cochlear recorded the heaviest losses among major companies.

Its shares closed 9.3 per cent lower despite the company reporting record sales of nearly 14,000 units during the first half.

The market had a warmer welcome for the earnings report of toll road operator Transurban.

The company's shares closed 1 per cent higher even though first-half net profit fell more than 15 per cent to $80.9 million.

Shares in Macquarie Group also went backwards by 4 per cent after the investment bank revealed it expected its profits to rise by about 10 per cent, below analyst expectations.

Of the big four banks, NAB fell 0.9 per cent, the Commonwealth ended down 0.6 per cent and Westpac slipped 0.1 per cent, but ANZ gained 0.3 per cent.

In the commodity market, spot gold was trading higher at $US1,676 an ounce at 5pm (AEDT) while West Texas intermediate crude oil slipped to $US96.17 a barrel but Tapis crude in Singapore rose to $US122.95 a barrel.

The Australian dollar was buying about 104.06 US cents, 77.18 euro cents, 66.04 British pence, 96.14 Japanese yen and 123.53 New Zealand cents.


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