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SYDNEY, Feb 8 AAP

February 08 2013, 2:25PM

A review of Australian economic data for the week, February 4 to February 8:

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS) BUILDING APPROVALS

Australian residential building approvals fell 4.4 per cent to 12,767 units in December.

This compares to an upwardly revised 13,351 units in November, seasonally adjusted.

In the year to December, building approvals were up 9.3 per cent, the ABS said.

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ANZ JOB ADVERTISEMENTS SERIES

Job advertisements fell for an 11th straight month in January, a leading employment survey says.

The ANZ Job Ads survey, showed the total number of ads fell 0.9 per cent in January, after a fall of 2.8 per cent in December.

According to the survey, the number of job advertisements placed online or in newspapers declined in seasonally adjusted terms every month since February 2012.

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TD SECURITIES-MELBOURNE INSTITUTE INFLATION GAUGE

Inflation remains at a slow enough pace for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to again cut the cash rate, but expectations were that it would not cut.

The TD Securities/Melbourne Institute Monthly Inflation Gauge rose by 0.3 per cent in January for a 2.5 per cent annual pace, which was in the middle of the RBA's two to three per cent target range.

Underlying inflation, the RBA's preferred measure, which excludes volatile price changes, was at 2.2 per cent for the 12 months to January.

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DUN & BRADSTREET BUSINESS EXPECTATIONS SURVEY

Australian businesses have slashed their profit expectations, amid declining sales and intense price discounting.

The Dun & Bradstreet Profit Expectations Index fell 12 points to an index level of 11 for the three months to June 2013, indicating a smaller proportion of business expect to post increases in profits than in the previous survey.

The outlook for sales fell for a second straight quarter, to an index level of 10, while the outlook for selling prices fell to an index level of one, its lowest point since the survey started in 1988.

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RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA BOARD MEETING AND RATE DECISION

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the cash rate on hold at 3.00 per cent at its first board meeting for 2013.

The decision to keep the cash rate unchanged was expected by most economists.

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ABS INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES

Australia's trade deficit narrowed in December, official figures show.

The balance on goods and services was a deficit of $427 million in December seasonally adjusted, compared with an upwardly revised deficit of $2.788 billion in November, the ABS said.

During the month, exports rose 3.0 per cent, while imports fell 6.0 per cent.

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ABS HOUSE PRICE INDEXES

Australian capital city house prices rose 1.6 per cent in the December quarter, official data showed.

This compares with a downwardly revised 0.14 per cent fall in the September quarter.

In the year to December, the house price index rose 2.1 per cent, the ABS said.

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AI GROUP/COMMONWEALTH BANK PERFORMANCE OF SERVICES INDEX

Australia's services sector contracted for the 12th consecutive month in January amid slowing activity in the mining sector and soft retail sales.

The Australian Industry Group/Commonwealth Bank Australian Performance of Services Index (PSI), rose 2.1 points to 45.3 in January.

A reading of below 50 indicates a contraction in the sector.

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ABS RETAIL TRADE

Australian retail spending has posted its third consecutive monthly fall, official figures show.

Retail trade fell 0.2 per cent in December to a seasonally adjusted $21.421 billion.

This compares to a downwardly revised $21.472 billion in November, the ABS said.

Over the December quarter, retail sales rose by 0.1 per cent to $63.749 billion in seasonally adjusted volume terms.

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ABS LABOUR FORCE

Australia's unemployment rate stayed at 5.4 per cent in January, for a second consecutive month, official figures show.

Total employment was up 10,400 to 11.549 million in the month, according to seasonally adjusted figures released by the ABS.

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NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK BUSINESS SURVEY

Businesses have recorded their toughest three months of trading since the Australian economy was emerging from the depths of the global financial crisis, a survey shows.

The NAB's quarterly business survey, showed both conditions and confidence deteriorated to levels not seen since the first half of 2009.

Business confidence fell to an index level of minus five in the December quarter, the weakest result since the three months to March 2009, while conditions slumped to minus six, a level not seen since the June quarter of 2009.

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AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY GROUP PERFORMANCE OF CONSTRUCTION INDEX

Australia's construction sector contracted further in January, marking the industry's 32nd consecutive month of decline.

The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association's performance of construction index fell 2.6 points to an index level of 36.2 in January.

An index level below 50 indicates the sector contracted during the month.

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AOFM TREASURY NOTE AUCTION

The Australian government has sold $1.5 billion of Treasury notes in two tranches.

The AOFM, which conducts bond auctions on the behalf of the government said the first tranche, of $1 billion in notes, was sold for a weighted average yield of 2.877 per cent, attracted bids totalling $6.466 Billion, with a coverage ratio of 6.47.

The second tranche, of $500 million in notes, was sold for a weighted average yield of 2.8802 per cent, attracted bids totalling $2.927 Billion, with a coverage ratio of 5.85.

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RBA STATEMENT ON MONETARY POLICY

Australia's rate of economic growth is expected to ease slightly in 2013 as mining investment slows, the central bank says.

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Friday downwardly revised its forecasts for gross domestic product (GDP) growth to between two to three per cent in 2013, from its previous forecast of 2.25 to 3.25 per cent.

It expects GDP growth through to the end of 2012 to be 3.5 per cent, which is in line with its November forecast.

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AOFM BOND AUCTION

The Australian government has sold $600 million of July 21, 2017, Treasury bonds.

The Australian Office of Financial Management, which conducts bond auctions on the behalf of the government, said the bonds were sold for a weighted average yield of 2.9039 per cent.

The sale attracted bids totalling $2.56 billion, giving a coverage ratio of 4.27.

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