Australia

Building approvals decrease in January

FOLLOWING four months of rises, the seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved fell by 7.0 per cent in January, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday.

A total of 14,045 dwelling units were approved in January. The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses approved rose 0.3 per cent to 9,630 but approval for private sector other dwellings (apartments and semi-detached houses) fell by 29.1 per cent (to 2,880).

Last month, Tasmania and Victoria lead the country in terms of building approval increases. This month, however, Tasmania and Victoria had the largest decreases, with seasonally adjusted total dwelling approvals falling by 27 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively. Queensland (-7.4%) also recorded a decrease in approvals. New South Wales (+3.5%), South Australia (+22.2%) and Western Australia (2.9%) achieved gains in the number of total dwelling units approved.

Compared to December, approvals for private sector houses were higher in all States except New South Wales (-7.5%). No seasonally adjusted information was available for Northern Territory and ACT.

The seasonally adjusted value of building approvals fell from over $8 billion in December, to just over $6 billion in January.

HIA Senior Economist, Mr Ben Phillips said that detached housing approvals remained a strong point for the housing recovery in 2010 but that the units and semi-detached market is "still bearing the brunt of tight credit conditions." Mr Phillips said "interest rate increases over 2010 will only exacerbate this situation" and that "the poor start to 2010 should be a reminder that a housing recovery is not a given and that with government support, through the social housing initiative and the first home buyers boost, being phased out or removed in 2010, interest rates will be a key factor in determining the fortunes of the home building industry."

The Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday decided to lift the cash rate to 4 per cent.

More information available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics <http://www.abs.gov.au/>.

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