The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."
Friday, June 8, 2012
More positive economic news!!
Housing finance (total, ex refis) rose 1.5% in April, more than reversing March’s 0.5% fall, but still leaving lending down 4½% from its December peak. The rise was driven by lending for new construction which rebounded 10.5% by value in the month (after -10% in March), due to both owners (+2%) and investors (+50%), while lending for established housing was flat-to-down. For owner-occupiers, the strongest gains were in VIC, QLD & NSW, each in part reversing recent falls. Lending was particularly strong at the non-banks (+4.2% m/m & +4.6% y/y), with banks (+0.6% & 3.0% y/y) lending at a slower pace than non-banks over the past year for the first time since early 2011. There was little change in the share of fixed (14.0% after 14.6%) or first-time (11.2% after 10.9%) lending.
The trade balance improved in April, narrowing $1.1bn to a deficit of $0.2bn from $1.3bn in March, the best result in 4 months. Exports continue to recover from their Jan/Feb lows, up 3% in April for the 2nd month. While rural rose 3% after 10% (+$0.1bn, broad-based, but mostly wool), the key driver was overwhelmingly iron ore (+$0.7bn, 10% m/m). Imports retraced 0.9% m/m, after last month’s 5% jump, with the fall explained entirely by lower oil imports (-$0.7bn). Elsewhere, consumer imports rose again (+14% y/y from 1% y/y in Feb, fastest in over 2 years), as did capital imports (+24% y/y).
Today’s data continue the positive tone of this week, with the strongest housing lending and smallest trade deficit so far this year. While April’s rise in lending is well short of reversing Q1’s weakness, the rising trend for new construction flags a double-digit rise in building approvals over coming months (& housing starts of 140-150k in 2H12). For trade, the 7% jump in exports over the past 2 months flags a return to surplus next month (while consumer imports are also rising)...it’s hard to ignore this week’s better trend appearing across the housing, trade & jobs data. Of interest is whether next week’s business and consumer confidence shows some lift as well.