Building Approvals weak in QLD but the Far North bucks the trend

Nationwide building approvals for March have come in much weaker than expected. Seasonally adjusted data showed a 3.5% decline on the month for a 20% increase over the past 12 months. The Trend data confirms the slowing with a second consecutive monthly decline (-0.8%) for a 21.9% increase over the year (this is down from +24.8% in Dec ’13). The vast bulk of the decline nationally came from (volatile) unit approvals with house approvals only marginally lower.
In Queensland the story was as weak. Monthly seasonally adjusted approvals fell 3.3% (the third decline in four months) with both houses and units contributing equally to the fall. The year on year picture in QLD (seasonally adjusted) has switched from a 46.6% increase in Nov ’13 to a 2.4% decline in March ’14. The Trend series is somewhat more encouraging; year on year Trend approvals are up 20.1%, although here too we have seen three consecutive monthly declines.
In the Far North things are looking better. Cairns saw approvals (unadjusted) at 55; their highest level since July ’13. More importantly the Conus Trend series showed monthly approvals at 52; unchanged from a ( sharply upwardly revised) 52 in Feb and +36.8% from a year ago. The Cassowary Coast saw (unadjusted) approvals jump to 14 on the back of 10 new house approvals in the Tully area (this includes Mission Beach and Cardwell); this is the highest seen in the region since May ’12. The Conus Trend series moved higher to 10, from an upwardly revised 9 in Feb (+25% yr/yr)
To our south, approvals in Townsville have continued to slip. Unadjusted approvals stood at just 96 for the month which saw the Conus Trend at 121 after Feb was revised sharply lower to 120 from 127(previous months also revised much lower and now -2.4% yr/yr).

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