Today sees the release of the (unadjusted) regional building approvals data which shows the Cassowary Coast as the stand-out performer for the month of August. The ABS unadjusted original data is so wildly volatile that we really need to focus our attention on the Conus Trend series, and in doing so we see quite a dramatic picture emerging.
In the Cairns Regional Council and Douglas Shire areas we are witnessing a clear, and quite sharp, drop in the rate of trend approvals. The unadjusted ABS data shows just 44 approvals across the two Local Govt Areas (down from 68 in July) which results in the Conus Trend dropping to 52 (after July was revised down to 54 from 58) which is its lowest level since March last year. As the chart below shows clearly, we are seeing a sharp slowdown in this area; indeed Trend approvals across the 2 LGAs are now down 17.7% from a year earlier.
Townsville saw 108 approvals in August (after just 83 in July) and as a result the Conus Trend has risen very slightly to 102; however, July was revised down from 101 to 100. Despite this tiny improvement Trend approvals remain 31.1% below their level a year ago. Trend approvals may have bottomed, but they remain at their lowest levels in almost 4 years.
In the Cassowary Coast (where approvals have been as low as 2 in April this year) we saw 13 approvals in August. This sees the Conus Trend increase to 11 (its highest level since May 2012) while the July Trend remained unrevised at 10. As has been the case for some time now, the vast bulk of the approvals are coming in the Tully SA2 area (which includes not only Tully but also Cardwell and Mission Beach) with 11 of this month’s 13 located in this area. So far this financial year the Tully SA2 has accounted for 20 of the 24 LGA’s approvals. The Tully SA2 has already seen 34% of last financial year’s total approvals registered in the first 2 months of the 2015-16 year; The Cassowary Coast LGA stands at 27% of last year’s total. While these increases are coming from a very low base, the chart below makes it abundantly clear that things have certainly shown dramatic improvement over the past year. The Conus Trend approvals are up 46.2% from the same time a year ago.