Building approvals in April bounced back from March’s restated big fall as more flats, units and townhouses were approved for construction. It was the first rise in five months

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that total building approvals rose 7.8% in April from March, and were 5.2% higher than a year ago. March’s fall was cut from a fall of 5.7% to a new estimate of a fall of 5.5%.

The market had been looking for a fall of 0.5% from March and to be lower than a year ago. The increase won’t concern the Reserve Bank board as it meets today to consider interest rates. No change is expected, especially after yesterday’s slump in retail sales in April, the third month in four in which sales growth has been negative.

Approvals for private dwellings rose 1.3% in something of a surprise, considering last Friday’s credit figures from the Reserve Bank showed a decline in the growth rate. April’s figure is well above the restated drop of 4.9% in March (originally a fall of 5.8%).

But most of the increase came from a 17.5% jump in the number of approvals for flats and units and townhouses (so-called medium-density dwellings). That particular part of the ABS figures is becoming increasingly “lumpy” with large swings in approval numbers from month to month. The March figure was a rise of just 0.3% on February.

The value of housing approvals rose in seasonally adjusted terms by 4.1% in April. The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of new residential building approved rose 10.1% in April. The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of alterations and additions rose 6.6%, and the value of non-residential building fell 2.9%.

Meanwhile, on the trade front, the current account deficit widened to $19.5 billion in the March quarter, from a revised $18.7 billion in the previous three months.

But that was around $1 billion better than the $20.5 billion current account deficit in market forecast. Our net foreign debt rose to $616.1 billion from a restated $607.1 billion ($6120 billion originally).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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