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SYDNEY, April 19 AAP

April 19 2013, 11:42AM

A review of the week's Australian economic data, April 15 to April 18:

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AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS HOUSING FINANCE

The number of home loans approved in February rose 2.0 per cent, official figures show.

There were 45,423 approvals in the month, compared to 44,547 approvals in January.

Economists had expected the number of housing finance commitments to rise by 1.5 per cent in February.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday said total housing finance by value rose 1.4 per cent in February, seasonally adjusted, to $21.826 billion.

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MINUTES OF RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA MONTHLY BOARD MEETING

The Reserve Bank of Australia is in a wait-and-see mode as it tries to work out whether it needs to deliver households more interest rate cuts.

The minutes from the RBA's April 2 board meeting show the central bank believes current low interest rates are providing a boost to underperforming sectors like housing and retailing.

But it said the high value of the Australian dollar and waning mining investment are hurting the economy.

The RBA said further rate cuts may be needed, but it wants to wait and see whether the full effect of last year's cuts flow through the economy.

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SPEECH BY RBA ASSISTANT GOVERNOR (FINANCIAL MARKETS) GUY DEBELLE TO THE MELBOURNE INSTITUTE PUBLIC ECONOMIC FORUM, CANBERRA

The mining and resources boom has added significantly to Australia's economic growth because very little of it has been funded by borrowing from banks.

RBA assistant governor (financial markets) Guy Debelle said the money to set up mining and resources projects has come from the existing cash of the companies doing the investing.

He said around 75 per cent of foreign direct investment in the resources sector has been in the form of reinvested earnings.

The sizable capital flows into Australia have boosted mining investment to eight per cent of gross domestic product, from two per cent before the boom started.

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ABS LENDING FINANCE FOR FEBRUARY

Personal finance loans were up 2.8 per cent in February, official figures show.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Tuesday said personal finance commitments, seasonally-adjusted, rose to $7.883 billion in February, from $7.665 billion in January.

Total commercial loans in February rose 1.0 per cent to $29.180 billion, from $28.881 billion in January.

Lease finance was up 1.7 per cent to $530 million, compared with $521 million the previous month.

Housing finance for owner occupiers rose 1.2 per cent to $13.946 billion, from $13.782 billion the month before.

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ABS NEW MOTOR VEHICLE SALES

Australian sales of new motor vehicles fell 0.6 per cent in March.

There were 95,113 new vehicles sold in March, seasonally adjusted, compared with 95,716 in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

In the year to March, new motor vehicle sales rose 4.5 per cent, seasonally adjusted.

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AUSTRALIAN OFFICE OF FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT (AOFM) TREASURY INDEXED BOND ISSUE

The Australian government has sold $250 million of September 20, 2030 Treasury bonds.

The AOFM said the bonds were sold for an issue yield of 0.930 per cent.

The sale attracted bids totalling $715 million, giving a coverage ratio of 2.86.

The face value of the bonds is linked to the consumer price index, so the return is the inflation rate plus the yield.

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WESTPAC-MELBOURNE INSTITUTE LEADING INDEXES OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY

Australia's economic growth is expected to pick up pace in the coming year, a private survey shows.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months in the future, was 4.2 per cent, above its long-term trend of 2.8 per cent.

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AOFM TREASURY BOND ISSUE

The Australian government has sold $600 million of July 15 2022 Treasury bonds.

The bonds were sold for a weighted average yield of 3.2391 per cent.

The sale attracted bids totalling $600 million, giving a coverage ratio of 3.18.

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NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK'S QUARTERLY BUSINESS SURVEY

Business confidence has improved in the first three months of the year as the worries about the global economy ease.

The National Australia Bank's latest quarterly survey showed business confidence rose for the first time in almost 18 months in the March quarter.

The business confidence index rose seven points to plus two, showing that most businesses believe conditions have improved in the March quarter.

The business conditions index was up three points to minus two.

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AOFM TO ISSUE TREASURY NOTES

The Australian government has sold $1 billion of Treasury notes that mature on July 26 2013.

The notes were sold for a weighted average issue yield of 2.8441 per cent, the AOFM said

The sale attracted bids totalling that totalled $5.536 billion, resulting in a relatively high coverage ratio of 5.54, meaning the auction was quite popular.

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COMMONWEALTH BANK BUSINESS SALES INDICATOR

Australians are feeling increasingly confident about spending their money, with spending on credit and debit cards rising for the seventh straight month.

Economy-wide spending rose 1.3 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in March, according to the Commonwealth Bank's Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

It was the seventh consecutive monthly increase, with spending up 5.8 per cent compared to a year ago.

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AOFM TREASURY BOND ISSUE

The Australian government sold $600 million of June 15, 2016 Treasury bonds.

The bonds were sold for a weighted average yield of 2.6972 per cent, the AOFM said.

The sale attracted bids totalling $1.995 billion, giving a coverage ratio of 3.33.

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