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Consumer confidence is on the up and up 30/05/2015

The next Australian Bureau of Statistics population data is due for release next month but we may already be seeing indicators of a second quarter of growth following the dramatic plunge in June last year when net overseas migration fell significantly by two-thirds and net interstate migration dived into the negative.

The next Australian Bureau of Statistics population data is due for release next month but we may already be seeing indicators of a second quarter of growth following the dramatic plunge in June last year when net overseas migration fell significantly by two-thirds and net interstate migration dived into the negative. 

The September net figure of 10,911 overseas migrants saw us just above the five-year average of 10157, potentially indicating that we have seen the worst of the “mining adjustment exodus.” 

The population statistics tends to lag behind other data published by the ABS, so it is difficult to tell if the spike in activity during the last few months reflects the return to normal levels of population growth; adjusting from the unsustainable high of 16,059 net overseas migrants in the March quarter 2012 and recovering from the low of 3384 in June 2014.

Lending for residential lots in WA, for example, has risen for the third consecutive month.  While still below the peak of $173 million in March 2014, finance for the purchase of individual residential lots has rebounded from a low of $83 million in January this year to be $101 million in March.  That is more than double the 2004 low of $48 million and very strong against the more recent low of $57 million in January 2010.

ABS Housing Finance Commitments data has been volatile during the past few months for both the actual numbers and the seasonally adjusted figures (shown in brackets).  In January, the commitments were down -22.6 per cent (-6.3 per cent); in February they rebounded 7.6 per cent (2.0 per cent); and in March there was further consolidation 17.9 per cent (1.0 per cent), with changes to the cash rate potentially influencing that outcome. 

The average loan size for the construction of dwellings was up 5.1 per cent to $291,000. In March, loans for the purchase of new dwellings fell 3.4 per cent to $375,800, while loans for existing dwellings averaged $337,300, up 0.6 per cent.  First-homebuyers were up 10.4 per cent on the February result, while non-first-homebuyers were up 20 per cent (original data).

The average size of first-homebuyer mortgages was $342,800, up by $600 on the previous month, whilst non-first-homebuyers were making on average an additional commitment of $5700.

Lending for new cars and station wagons was up 12.6 per cent month on month with the loan size up, on average, $1615 to $35,076.  Sales of boats caravans and trailers were also up as was the amount being spent on holidays.  Early days, but consumer confidence appears to be strengthening.

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