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Signs of hope in building approvals
August 1st 2012
Housing data for June has produced positive signs, with building approvals falling less than expected and total credit growth edging higher.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a 2.5 per cent fall in building approvals - compared with economists' expectations of a 15 per cent fall - following a 27 per cent surge in May.
In the year to June 30, building approvals increased 10.2 per cent, defying economists' predictions of a 5.5 per cent drop, according to Bloomberg. In the year to May 31, building approvals rose 9.1 per cent.
''Building approvals have been on the mend in recent months,'' said Moody's Economy.com analyst Katrina Ell. ''But looser monetary settings have not yet breathed life into the private housing sector, with the number of approvals easing further in June.
Signs emerged elsewhere that the housing market has responding to the 100-basis-point cut in the Reserve Bank's benchmark interest rate since November, most of which the big banks have passed on to households.
New home sales rose 2.8 per cent in June, according to the Housing Industry Association's sales report, marking its third consecutive month of growth.
RP Data showed a 1 per cent rise in capital-city home prices in June, following months of weaker readings.
Private-sector house approvals fell 1.1 per cent in June, while approvals for private-sector units and apartments fell 4.5 per cent in the month, the Bureau of Statistics said.
''After that big surge last month, we were expecting a larger drop,'' said RBC Capital Markets senior economist Su-Lin Ong. ''Approvals are looking a tad firmer. Overall total approvals are still low by historical standards but it's possibly showing early signs that rate cuts are having some effect.''
Reserve Bank data showed borrowing remained subdued. Total credit in June grew by 0.3 per cent, slowing from 0.5 per cent growth in May.
Ms Ong said the June data was the weakest since January.
''The breakdown highlighted a number of familiar themes, with continued weakness in borrowing for consumer-related purposes - down 0.2 per cent - and ongoing softness in housing credit,'' she said.
Article from The Age, Chris Zappone, 1st August 2012