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Australia

Australia home-loan approvals rose more than forecast in August

More buyers on the market as rate cut takes hold and job chances strengthen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 3:00am

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Australian home-loan approvals rose in August by the most since November last year, as buyers responded to the central bank's interest-rate cuts.

The number of loans granted to build or buy houses and flats gained 1.8 per cent from July, when they fell a revised 0.7 per cent, the statistics bureau said on Monday.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 17 economists was for approvals to gain 1.5 per cent.

This week's data follow a government report last week showing Australian employers added almost three times the number of workers in September that economists forecast.

The nation's central bank has reduced the overnight cash rate target five times in the past year to help extend a 21-year run without a recession.

"Some stabilisation in house prices suggests homebuyers are gradually returning," Katrina Ell, an economist at Moody's Analytics in Sydney said. "The Reserve Bank's easing bias is providing an added impetus."

The Australian dollar was little changed after the report, buying US$1.0212 compared with US$1.0211 before the data were released.

House prices in Australia's eight state and territory capital cities jumped 1.4 per cent last month, the biggest increase since March 2010, according to a report from RP Data and Rismark International. Prime home-loan delinquencies in the second quarter declined to 1.54 per cent from 1.6 per cent, Fitch Ratings said in a report this month.

The report showed the total value of loans rose 0.6 per cent to A$20.3 billion (HK$161 billion) in August.

The value of lending to owner-occupiers gained 1.3 per cent, the report showed. The value of loans to investors who planned to rent or resell homes dropped 0.8 per cent.

First-home buyers accounted for 18.6 per cent of dwellings that were financed in August, down from 19.2 per cent in July and higher than 16.6 per cent a year earlier.

Investors are pricing in an 85 per cent chance that Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens will cut the benchmark rate 0.25 percentage points to 3 per cent next month after five reductions totalling 1.5 points since November, swaps data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Australian employers hired 14,500 workers last month, compared with economists' forecasts for a 5,000 increase, even as the unemployment rate jumped to a 2-1/2-year high of 5.4 per cent, an October 11 government report showed.

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