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Friday 12th August 2016 - 1:19 pm
Comments Off on Commercial lending eases

Commercial lending eases

by Alan Thornhill

Commercial lending fell by 2.2 per cent in June on trend figures the Bureau of  Statistics published today.

 

On seasonally adjusted figures the fall that month  was even bigger at 8.7 per cent.

 

Lease finance fell by 2.8 per cent in June, but rose by 13 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Personal finance rose by 0.3 per cent on trend figures, but fell by 3 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Housing finance for owner occupation rose by 0.2 per cent in June on trend estimates, while seasonally adjusted figures showed a 1.8 per cent rise.

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Thursday 11th August 2016 - 6:18 pm
Comments Off on Social isolation rates high:research

Social isolation rates high:research

by Alan Thornhill

Social isolation rates are high in Australia, according to new research that the National Australia Bank published today.

 

 

The bank said less than two thirds (58 per cent) of Australians now feel connected to their local communities.

 

 

It said, too, that young women and labourers were among Australia’s most isolated people.

 

 

But older people, including widowed people and over 50s, were among those feeling the most connected.

 

 

These results showed up in a special report on Wellbeing and Importance of Community Connections.

 

 

The bank said  networks play an important role in overall community wellbeing.

 

 

It also said that while there is little difference between the sense of community connection between men and women overall, there are “notable differences by age, education, work, and relationship status.”

 

“Just as our personal wellbeing appears to increase with age so too does our feeling of community connection,” the bank said.

 

“Widows, closely followed by  over 50s (particularly women), married couples, Australians with a higher education and professional workers, not only report the highest level of personal wellbeing but they are also the most connected,” it added

 

“Similarly, there appears to be a relationship between low levels of personal wellbeing and weak community connections, with young women (18 to 29) and labourers the least connected groups.” ??The NAB Group’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, said .

 

 

“The message is clear.

 

 

Those who feel more connected within their local communities typically have higher levels of personal wellbeing,” ??Mr Oster said.

 

 

He conceded that some of the isolation felt by younger people and labourers might due to age.

 

 

“But some may also be a by-product of modern living with a lesser degree of community connection  due to frequency of job changes, increased globalisation and the associated rise in relocations and the rise of online rather than physical communities and networks” Mr Oster added.

 

 

He said too that both men and women believe that addressing safety and law and order issues would have the greatest impact on improving wellbeing, followed by housing affordability, local jobs and health services.

 

 

“While there is much that individuals can do themselves such as volunteering and getting to know their neighbours, there is also a clear role for government, community groups and business, particularly regarding issues such as safety, housing employment and health in order to improve the wellbeing of Australians,” he added.

Thursday 11th August 2016 - 9:54 am
Comments Off on Appoint a children’s commissioner for Nauru:Labor

Appoint a children’s commissioner for Nauru:Labor

by Alan Thornhill

Labor has renewed its call for a children’s commissioner to investigate allegations of child abuse on Nauru and in other detention centres.

 

The shadow minister for immigration and border protection, Shane Neumann, urged greater transparency on the issue, when he appeared in a late night ABC television program last night.

 

He said:  “We need action now.

 

 

“An independent children’s advocate would act on each case individual case, dealing with each case as it does in any court we deal with where there’s an independent children’s lawyer engaged.

 

“ That independent advocate would be able to deal with children, deal with those people engaged in mental health assistance and also advocate and report to Parliament,” Mr Neumann said.

 

This follows The Guardian’s publication of material from an 8,000 page leaked document, detailing some 2,000 incidents of  alleged abuse on the island, including a “disproportionate” number of child abuse cases.

 

 

The  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed calls by the Greens for a Royal Commission into the allegations.

 

However he has promised an investigation

 

Human rights advocates are also calling for more transparency into Australia’s offshore detention system.

 

 

Hugh de Kretser of the Humn Rights Law Centre said:  “ We desperately need to open up this system to scrutinise it.

 

“That’s a secondary issue to the humanitarian issue which is upon us now which is acting now to bring them here to Australia,” he added.

Wednesday 10th August 2016 - 1:04 pm
Comments Off on Lending for investment housing rises

Lending for investment housing rises

by Alan Thornhill

Lending for investment housing rose by 3.2 per cent last month, on seasonally adjusted figures published by the Bureau of Statistics today.

 

The Bureau’s figures show that almost $11.8 billion was made available, through fixed loans, for this purpose last month.

 

The Bureau also reported that there had been a 1.2 per cent rise, in commitments for owner occupied housing last month.

 

Loans for the construction of dwellings rose by 2.1 per cent in June, while lending for the purchase of established dwellings rose by 1 per cent.

 

Lending for the purchase of new dwellings rose by 2.7 per cent in June.

Tuesday 9th August 2016 - 2:48 pm
Comments Off on New risks loom

New risks loom

by Alan Thornhill

A new business survey shows that while the Australian economy is still strong, medium to longer term risks are becoming more apparent.

 

These are the conclusions the National Australia Bank’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, reaches from the results of the bank’s  latest monthly business survey.

 

The bank sid: “for a while now, the NAB Business Survey has provided a relatively consistent message on the health of the Australian economy.”

 

And it added: “It continues to show a steady recovery in non-mining activity, with the services sectors clearly leading the way.”

 

However Mr Oster added a warning.

 

He said:  “there were some notable differences in business conditions across industries this month. “

 

“The largest deterioration was in mining, followed by big falls in transport and wholesale.”

 

“Retail saw the largest improvement, following a weak result last month.”

 

But  Mr Oster said:  “…the contribution from major industries suggests a relatively mixed bag.”

 

He said the service sectors continue to be the best performers.

 

“ Signs of a broadening recovery in recent months have again become more obscure following sharp deteriorations in transport and wholesale – although the recovery in retail conditions was encouraging.”

 

The bank said the economy could run into headwinds from 2017.

 

And it added: “these headwinds may require additional policy action to support growth, especially if the RBA hopes to see inflation return to within its target band.

 

“ Both global and domestic disinflationary pressures are expected to keep CPI inflation below the target band for an extended period.

 

And structural shifts in the economy and modest economic growth would leave the unemployment rate under pressure.

 

“To stabilise the unemployment rate (at around 5.5 per cent) we expect the RBA will feel the need to provide further medium term support through two more 25bp cuts in May and August 2017 (to a new low of 1 per cent).

“And thereafter raises the prospect of the RBA thinking about the use of non-conventional monetary policy measures,” it added.

Monday 8th August 2016 - 7:27 pm
Comments Off on Job ads “ease”

Job ads “ease”

by Alan Thornhill

Job advertising fell last month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

The bank said job ads fell by 0.8 per cent in July.

 

It said this was the first decline since April and may reflect heightened uncertainty temporarily delaying the hiring plans of some employers.

 

It added that the annual growth in job ads has slowed to 6.9 per cent from 8.0 per cent  the previous month.

 

 

The bank said too, that the fall in July was driven by both internet and newspaper job ads.

 

Internet job advertisements, which are the main driver of total job ads, declined by 0.7 per cent in July, the bank noted.

 

It said that annual growth in internet jobs ads had slowed from 8.8 per cent  in June to 7.9 per cent in July.

 

The more volatile newspaper ads remain on a structural downward trend and fell further in July, down 12.6 per cent  in the month to be 41.7 per cent  lower than a year ago.

 

The bank’s head of Australian Economics, Felicity Emmett, said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

She said there had been :  “slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent.

 

The labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016, with slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent, in the second half of last year from a peak of 6.3 per cent.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “more recently, job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,

 

Job advertising fell las month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

Ms Emmett also said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “… job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,” Ms Emmett added.

 

 

With surveyed business conditions remaining upbeat and the RBA cutting rates in August, we look for a gradual improvement in hiring intentions over the remainder of the year,” Ms Emmett said.

 

 

Thursday 4th August 2016 - 7:29 pm
Comments Off on PM hauls banks before parliament

PM hauls banks before parliament

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government will haul Australia’s banks before a powerful parliamentary committee as it seeks to persuade them to pass on the Reserve Bank’s latest interest rate cut in full.

 

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and his Treasurer, Scott Morrison, made the announcement in a joint statement today.

 

Labor might well have gone further.

 

It promised a royal commission into the behavior of  Australia’s banks, before last month’s Federal elections.

 

Mr Turnbull said that in  challenging economic times globally, it is important that Australians retain faith in our financial institutions and the decisions they are taking.

 

“The Australian economy depends critically on the performance and strength of our banking and financial system,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

” Banks operate under a social licence and have responsibilities to the Australian public.”

 

He said they would be asked, particularly about several matters.when they appear before the House of Representatives Economics Committee.

 

In particular the banks would be required to explain:

  • International economic and financial market developments and how these are affecting Australia
  • Developments in prudential regulation, including capital requirements, and how these are affecting the policies of Australian banks
  • The costs of funds, impacts on margins and the basis for bank interest rate pricing decisions
  • How individual banks and the banking industry as a whole are responding to issues previously raised in Parliamentary inquiries through their package of reforms announced in April 2016
  • Bank perspectives on the performance of the Australian economy, including strengths and risks.

 

The appearance by the banks will ensure they have the important opportunity to transparently account for their decision making and how they balance the needs of borrowers, savers, shareholders and the wider community, Mr Turnbull said.

 

The initial response from Australia’s banks was cautious.

 

Andrew Thorburn, the National Australia Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said for example that his bank is looking  forward to the dialogue around “how we balance”  the needs of different  stakeholders.

 

He said it is also anticipating “outlining the full cost of being an unquestionably strong bank and bringing further insight to the topic of how we set our interest rates.

 

“I am proud to be a banker,” he added.

 

” It has always required carefully thought through decisions,” he added.

 

“But the focus has been on serving the many people who rely on us to get these decisions right. ”

 

 

Thursday 4th August 2016 - 12:57 pm
Comments Off on Retail sales rise – slightly – in June

Retail sales rise – slightly – in June

by Alan Thornhill

Retail sales rose 0.1 per cent in June on seasonally adjusted figures  the Bureau of Statistics published today.

 

The Bureau said   this followed a rise of 0.2 per cent in May 2016.

It said that in seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (3.5 per cent), household goods retailing (0.3 per cent) and department stores (0.7 per cent).

 

But there were falls in food retailing (-0.6 per cent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.1 per cent) and other retailing (-0.1 per cent) in June 2016.
In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales rose in Queensland (1.1 per cent) and Western Australia (0.1 per cent).

 

Turnover in South Australia was relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent).

 

And there were falls in New South Wales (-0.2 per cent), Victoria (-0.1 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-0.6 per cent), the Northern Territory (-1.1 per cent) and Tasmania (-0.2 per cent).

 

The Bureau also said that the trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.2 per cent in June following a 0.2 per cent rise in May 2016.

 

Compared to June 2015 the trend estimate rose 3.1 per cent.

 

 

Online retail turnover contributed 3.4 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms.

 

In seasonally adjusted volume terms, turnover rose 0.4 per cent in the June quarter 2016, following a rise of 0.5 per cent in the March quarter 2016.

 

The largest contributor to the rise was “other retailing,”  which rose 1.9 per cent in seasonally adjusted volume terms in the June quarter 2016.

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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