One of the more important updates over the week came in the form of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) board minutes.
In keeping the cash rate on hold at 2.0%, the RBA noted that the ‘accommodative’ monetary policy settings remained appropriate given their forecasts of low inflation and softer economic growth conditions as the national economy continues to transition away from mining related investment and lower commodity prices.
The RBA noted that profits across the business sector had moved higher as business conditions improve and labour costs are maintained.
The RBA added that the depreciation of the Australian dollar should continue to stimulate the export sector
From a housing market perspective, the RBA noted the strong capital gain conditions have persisted in Sydney and Melbourne, however growth in the apartment sector had been ‘less rapid’ due to increased construction activity.
Overall, it appears the RBA is comfortable with the current interest rate setting and we can expect and extended period of stability for the cash rate going forward.
Interestingly, financial markets are still reasonably confident of another rate cut, with the ASX cash rate futures indicating a 90% probability of another cash rate cut before the middle of next year and a 50% chance that rates will move lower by November this year.
Other data flows over the week included the weekly measure of consumer sentiment from ANZ/Roy Morgan and motor vehicle sales.
Similar to the Westpac reading on consumer confidence, the ANZ/Roy Morgan series is virtually stable from a year ago.
Consumers are still spending, but not in droves and confidence levels are volatile reflecting the mixed array of news from overseas and locally.
New vehicle sales provide further insights around how willing consumers are to spend their money on high value items.
Sales of new cars were down 1.3% over the month of July but remain 3.7% higher compared with last year.
Sports utility vehicles (SUV’s) continued to show an upwards trajectory in sales with this category of motor vehicle sales increasing a further 2.1%.
Over the week ending August 16, CoreLogic RP Data captured 1,922 auction results, accounting for just over 90% of all auctions held across the capital cities.
The final auction clearance rate over the past week was recorded at 74.6%, down from 76.9% over the preceding week, but higher than one year ago when 69.5% of auctions across the combined capitals were sold.
Both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s two largest auction markets saw clearance rates fall last week.
Melbourne’s clearance rate was 76.5% across 848 results, two percentage points lower than the previous week (78.5%), while Sydney’s clearance rate was down from 78.3% the previous week to 77.3% last week.
There were 915 auctions held across the Sydney last week, with 818 results captured.
The national number of newly advertised properties increased by 4.9% relative to the same period one year ago to reach 233,119 properties added to the listings pool over the past twenty eight days.
The increase in new listing numbers was fuelled by the capital cities where newly advertised homes were 8.9% higher than a year ago.
The largest increases in new listing numbers are coming from Sydney (+16.1%), Melbourne (+14.6%) and Canberra (+13.3%) while vendors are adding fewer new listings to the market compared with last year in Darwin (-22.7%), Perth (-10.2%) and Hobart (-3.8%).
Total stock levels are now roughly the same as a year ago (-0.6%) nationally and slightly higher (+1.0%) across the capital cities.
The strongest housing markets are still seeing listing numbers lower than a year, although this trend might not last for much longer.
Stock levels in Sydney are only 1.9% lower than a year ago and 6.4% lower than a year ago in Melbourne.