Australian Building Permits Rose in November on Apartments

Australian home-building approvals advanced for the third time in four months in November as lower interest rates encouraged plans for apartment projects.

The number of permits granted to build or renovate houses and apartments gained 2.9 percent from October, when they fell a revised 5.1 percent, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. The result was in line with the median forecast for a 3 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists.

The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered borrowing costs five times from November 2011 to October to buttress the economy as a resource investment boom is predicted to peak this year. Governor Glenn Stevens, who reduced the overnight cash rate target again last month to 3 percent, is trying to revive industries including construction to rebalance economic growth and extend a run of 21 recession-free years.

“The housing sector is healing slowly,” said Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research for TD Securities Inc. in Singapore. The RBA board “should be in ‘wait and see’ mode to assess if the current mix of accommodative monetary policy and less-contractionary fiscal policy are set to generate trend growth,” she said.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said last month that the government is unlikely to deliver a pledged budget surplus this fiscal year as weaker growth and a strong local currency curb tax receipts.

Today’s report showed building approvals in November advanced 13.2 percent from a year earlier. That compares with economists’ forecast for an 11.6 percent rise year-over-year.

Private Houses

Approvals to build private houses fell 0.3 percent to 7,518 in November from the previous month, the report showed. Approvals for apartments and renovations advanced 10.1 percent to 5,552, it showed.

The local dollar, which has stayed above parity with the U.S. currency for more than six months, its longest stretch above that threshold on record. The so-called Aussie was little changed after the data were released, trading at $1.0501 at 12:23 p.m. in Sydney.

The RBA board meets Feb. 5 to decide whether to change monetary policy. Traders are pricing in a 39 percent chance Stevens will cut the benchmark rate to a record-low 2.75 percent, according to swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.

Australian employers boosted payrolls more than economists forecast in November and the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 5.2 percent, government data showed Dec. 6.

Australia’s economy received a boost in recent months as the price of iron ore, the nation’s most valuable export, surged to a 15-month high, reflecting expectations of faster growth in China.

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