Online and newspaper job ads last month fell for the first time in three months, down 1.7%, with the Reserve Bank’s first rate rise blamed. Overall job ads totalled 133,709 in the month, down from 136,070 in September, with newspaper job ads falling by 1.4% and internet job ads declining by 1.8%.

The October fall was after rises in September and October, of 4.1% and 4.4% respectively. So, if we learn in a month’s time that November’s ANZ job ads series was also down, then the Melbourne Cup day rate rise will then be blamed?

In fact the fall is typical of a recovery in employment, nothing is linear or increases month after month. If the fall is translated in the October labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday, it might be enough to put the Reserve Bank’s rate rise program on hold until February. Market forecasts are for a loss of about 10,000 jobs to be reported.

But it is only a “might”.

The Olivier job index, which measures online job ad demand and interest, dropped 1.67% in October, following two month’s gains, in a report at the weekend.

“We’re up 4.32% over three months, so it’s still positive,” said Olivier Group director Robert Olivier in a statement.

“But we can’t help thinking that interest rate rises may have taken the edge off growth in employment,” he said.

A quarterly update from the Commonwealth Bank today showed the September quarter was a cracker for the country’s biggest bank: $1.4 billion in cash earnings, better than expected, bad debts under control, net interest margin rising, the bank’s wealth management business riding the market rebound and up went the shares to more than $54 in early trading.

And it’s no wonder with the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing today a 5.1% rise in home loan approvals in September, after the 0.6% fall in August

The number of loans approved for all dwellings rose 4.8% in the month to $23.847 billion.

Home loans approved for the construction of new homes jumped 8% in the month and loans approved for the purchase of existing homes were up a solid 5.0%. But loans to buy already-built new homes slipped 0.6% in September.

The rise, while a surprise, was put down to a rush to buy homes before the reduction in the boost to the federal government’s first-home owners grant at the end of that month. The market had forecast a 3% rise in home loan approvals for the month.

The Big Four banks, led by the Commonwealth, dominate home lending, especially to first-home buyers and builders.

The ABS said the number of first-home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments rose, increasing from 24.7% in August to 26.1% in September.

It’s likely home loan approvals will ease when the October figures are reported this time next month with the rush from first-home buyer/builders falling off.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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