When the Greek prime minister announced out of the blue that he would hold a referendum on the second EU bailout plan, it reawakened investors' fears for the global economy. They retreated from the ‘risky’ commodity-oriented currencies, including the Australian dollar, and headed for the safety of the yen, the US dollar and the British pound. The AUD and NZD roughly kept pace with each other, lagging sterling by more than 2% over the course of the week. The Australian economy did not help the Aussie's case. Residential property – a sector which for years has resisted the force of gravity – was showing more signs of strain. The government's house price index fell by -2.2% in the year to September, half of which decline came in the third quarter. New home sales fell by -3.5% in September and building permits were down by -13.6. Bucking the trend, the construction sector purchasing managers' index improved by nearly five points in October, but still looked anaemic at 34.7 on a 0-100 scale where anything below 50 means shrinkage.