Approvals could hold RBA rate clues

(Australian Associated Press)


Melbourne was the only capital city where home prices rose last week, but those seeking clues about housing affordability in 2017 may want to widen their search beyond those numbers.

Data released Monday showed building approvals rose by an above expectation seven per cent in November, but that was only after three consecutive months of declines.

The trend is still heading downwards and that is bound to figure into the Reserve Bank’s thinking when it comes to setting the cash rate, which in turn is one of the key considerations for lenders when it comes to their mortgage rates for borrowers.

“Building approvals generally lead construction activity by around one to three quarters and some signs of softness in residential construction should start emerging by the end of the year,” National Australia Bank economist Tapas Strickland wrote in a note.

“In NAB’s view, the RBA is likely to cut rates in 2017 in order to ward off an increase in unemployment associated with the turn in the housing construction cycle.

“Today’s numbers suggest such a topping off is likely to occur soon.”

Prices in Melbourne rose 0.2 per cent in the week ending January 8, and fell by the same amount in Sydney as the holidays took their toll.

They are up 13.6 per cent and 15.1 per cent respectively on the same period a year earlier.

Prices also fell last week in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth by 0.1 per cent, 0.3 per cent and 0.5 per cent.


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