Australian Housing Finance Rises in July

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

The number of Australian home-loan approvals rose by a seasonally adjusted 2.9% in July from June, the Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

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Economists surveyed ahead of the announcement had expected a rise of 1.0% for the month. The value of loans for investment housing fell by 3.9% from June, the ABS said.

Finance approvals to build new houses rose by 3.1% in July from June. Approvals to buy newly built dwellings rose by 1.9%, while lending for the purchase of established homes rose by 2.9% in the month.

The data comes amid increasing evidence that Australia's housing market has cooled after mortgage lending rules were tightened in March to make riskier lending harder, especially to investors.

House prices were unchanged nationally in August, raising expectations that a boom in recent years may finally be fizzling out as well as cooling fears around one of the biggest risks to the economy, according to property research group Corelogic.

Housing's rise to record levels has strained affordability and lifted household debt to among the highest globally.

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While more time is needed, the curbs on mortgage lending appear to be taking hold, with only Melbourne showing some signs of resistance, posting a 0.5% rise in house prices over August.

Australia's central bank is increasingly convinced that the country's home-price surge is levelling off.

While "rising briskly in some markets...there are signs that conditions are easing, especially in Sydney," noted Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe this week.

-Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 07, 2017 21:47 ET (01:47 GMT)