Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan
Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

GUEST OBSERVER

Australian housing finance approvals ticked up in Feb, in line with expectations and confirming other indicators suggesting markets have had a better start to 2016 after a weak finish to 2015.

The detail showed a surprisingly solid gain for investor loans but continued softening in construction-related finance approvals.

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Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

The number of owner occupier approvals rose 1.7 percent in Feb, recovering about half of Jan’s 4.8 percent fall (revised down from –3.9 percent).

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Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

That compares to the market forecast of a 2 percent gain – the revision to Jan bringing the final result more in line with Westpac’s 1 percent call.

Note that the holiday low period tends to make monthly housing data choppier and less reliable at the start of the year.

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Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

‘New’ owner occupier approvals (ex refi) were a little firmer, up 2.5 percent mth but with annual growth more moderate (3.2 percent yr vs 5.9 percent yr including refi).

The value of housing finance approvals to investors was a mild upside surprise, lifting 4 percent mth after a 1.6 percent dip in Jan.

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Australian housing finance February 2016: Westpac's Matthew Hassan

The total value of finance approvals to both owner occupiers (ex refi) and investors was up 3.8 percent mth, 2.7 percent yr.

Overall, the picture points to a relatively steady start to the new year, something also apparent from auction market activity.

Matthew Hassan is senior economist with Westpac.

Tags: 
Residential Market Dwelling Finance

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