Australian building approvals rise for a second month in March

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Australian building approvals rose for a second consecutive month in March, bucking expectations for further weakness.

According to the ABS, approvals rose by 3.7% to 19,371 in seasonally adjusted terms, well ahead of forecasts for a decline of 3.0%. It also followed a 3.1% increase in February.

From a year earlier, approvals were down 6.5%.

As is almost always the case, the strength in March was predominantly driven by a jump in private sector dwelling approvals excluding houses, largely apartments.

They increased by 6.7% to 9,395, leaving the annual decline at 11.5%.

Although the volatile component was largely behind the monthly gain, the strength was replicated in house approvals which gained 2.6% to 9,771.

Compared to March 2015, approvals in this category were down a minuscule 0.1%.

By spend, the ABS reported that the value of building approved fell by 2.0% following a rise of 5.8% in April.

The value of residential building rose 2.0%, its second consecutive monthly increase, helping to offset a 11.2% decline in the value of non-residential building.

The market reaction to the data beat has been negligible with investors biding their time before the release of the RBA’s interest rate decision later this afternoon.

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