Most of the key economic data releases this week have come from the private sector, with National Australia Bank (NAB) releasing their monthly business survey, Westpac and the Melbourne Institute have released the results of their monthly consumer sentiment survey, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) released their monthly new home sales and the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) released their monthly job advertisements series.
NAB’s monthly business survey softened slightly in January 2016 according to the release, due to a sharp decline in mining and wholesale sector confidence.
The index of business confidence was recorded at +2 points, which was unchanged over the month while business conditions had a reading of +5, down from +6 the previous month.
Although the index weakened it was surprisingly resilient given recent equity market volatility.
Westpac and the Melbourne Institute’s consumer sentiment survey rose to 101.3 points in February 2016.
The release notes that the survey was undertaken prior to the recent equities market woes nevertheless, it was a rebound of 4.2% over the month and indicates respondents were more optimistic than pessimistic for the 3rd month out of the past four months.
This in itself is telling given that respondents have been more optimistic than pessimistic only five times during the past two years.
The HIA’s New Home Sales Report showed that following three consecutive monthly falls, new home sales increased by 6.0% in December 2015.
Over the month the report shows that private detached house sales increased by 2.2% while multi-unit sales (which tend to be more volatile) jumped by 21.1%. ANZ’s job advertisements release for January showed a rise in advertisements for January.
In seasonally-adjusted terms total job ads rose by 1.0% over the month to be 10.8% higher year-on-year.
The data is very positive and indicates more jobs are becoming available which should help to encourage greater employment growth and ultimately an even lower unemployment rate.
ANZ suggests that the current trends indicate further employment gains in early 2016 which will be enough to at least keep the unemployment rate stable.
Although the commentary does note that it is unlikely that job creation in 2016 will be as strong as it was in 2015.
Over the week ending February 7 2016, CoreLogic RP Data captured 789 auction results, accounting for more than 86% of all auctions held across the capital cities.
The final auction clearance rate over the past week was recorded at 70.1%, which increased from the 59.4% over the previous week.
In fact, it was the highest national clearance rate since the middle of September last year, although, it is important to note that volumes are still rebounding from the seasonal slowdown.
In Sydney the auction clearance rate was 75.0% across 276 results, which is the city’s highest clearance rates since early September 2015 albeit off a low volume of auctions.
Melbourne’s clearance rate was 77.6% across 232 results which is its highest clearance rates since early August of last year.
Given the low volume of auctions it is still premature to judge the health of auction markets.
As auction numbers rise over the coming weeks we will get a better feel for how auction activity is tracking relative to last year.
The national number of newly advertised properties was 11.0% higher relative to the same period one year ago with 47,483 properties added to the listings pool over the past twenty eight days.
Across the combined capital cities new listings are 5.4% higher than they were at the same time last year and Sydney (-4.8%) and Darwin (-15.2%) are the only capital cities where new listings are lower than a year ago, possibly indicating some reluctance from vendors to list their property as housing conditions slow.
The total number of properties available for sale is higher than a year ago across both the national (0.2%) and combined capital city (2.6%) markets.
Across the capital cities the higher number of total listings is due to Sydney (+11.1%), Perth (+12.3%) and Darwin (+11.5%) with total listings lower elsewhere.
It is anticipated that new listings will continue to trend higher over the coming weeks and it will be interesting to see how total listings track which will be dependent on the rate of sale.