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Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

There’s more pain on the way for Australia’s borrowers with the Reserve Bank today raising interest rates for the third time in as many months.

As widely tipped, the central bank lifted its key cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.75 per cent following its monthly board meeting. It’s the first time the RBA has lifted rates three months in a row. (Click here for economists’ reaction, including Michael Pascoe and Peter Martin.)

”In Australia, the downturn was relatively mild, and measures of confidence and business conditions suggest that the economy is in a gradual recovery,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement accompanying the rates verdict. The central bank’s ”gradual” increases in rates will ”work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity,” he said.

For a typical mortgage holder on a $300,000 mortgage, today’s rate rise will add about $47 to monthly repayments, assuming commercial banks match the RBA’s move. Officials for most of the major banks this afternoon said their rates policies were under review.

The Reserve Bank has made regular public comments in recent weeks that it sees no need to keep interest rates at ”emergency” levels as the economy rebounds from a slowdown during the past year. Ric Battelino, the RBA’s deputy governor, last week said the economy’s growth is likely to extend ”for a few more years yet.”

More to rises come

Still, the economic data continue to provide mixed readings. A measure of manufacturing activity in November out today showed the sector continues to grow with companies adding jobs, although the stronger Australian dollar slowed the pace of expansion.

Overall building approvals, meanwhile, surprisingly fell 0.6 per cent in October, according to other figures out today. A 5 per cent gain in approvals for private homes was countered by a 19 per cent drop in permits for flats and townhouses.

Even with today’s rate increase, the Reserve Bank’s efforts to tighten monetary policy are likely to be far from over.

”The big change in this statement was their reference to the increases so far as being material,” ANZ’s head of Australian economics Warren Hogan told Reuters.

”I read that as implying that they’re ready to now sit back and watch how these increases affect the economy. And the hurdle for further rate hikes will be much higher than we have seen so far.

“So I think our view that they’re going to 4 (per cent), 4.25 then sit there for much of the year is the right one. There’s every chance they’ll do it in February and March, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s dragged out over a number of months.”

JP Morgan’s Chief Economist Stephen Walters agreed that the RBA may make it four rate rises in a row: “With inflation likely to creep up, and the worst in the economy having passed, there is no need to keep rates at very expansionary levels.”

“We think they will again lift rates in February,” Mr Walters

said. ”The RBA does not meet in January, but I think they will hike when they return after the break. The word ‘gradual’ is still there in the RBA statement and I think they will start going slow in lifting after February.”

Before today’s move, investors were betting that rates would rise to at least 4.75 per cent in a year’s time – equivalent to four more rate rises over the period. Three weeks ago, however, the betting was for rates to rise to 5.25 per cent, indicating confidence in the economy’s strength has recently diminished.

The RBA’s board is not scheduled to meet again until next February.

Political view

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the rate rise would pinch household funds.

”This is tough for families…when rates go up it has an impact on the family budget,” Mr Swan told reporters.

He took aim at old comments from new Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the government’s billion-dollar stimulus had led to interest rates rises.

”That is laughable and it comes from a political leader who is prone to making erratic statements,” Mr Swan said.

”Mr Abbott is in denial of the fact that this country has performed well in the global recession.”

Even with the latest jump, these rates were last seen in 1967, Mr Swan said.

Mild downturn

A year ago, the Reserve Bank was in the midst of a series of deep interest rate cuts as Australia joined other countries in attempting to limit the damage from the global financial crisis.

Last December, the RBA sliced one full percentage point from its cash rate, lowering it to 4.25 per cent on the way to a fifty year-low of 3 per cent by April. After a pause, the central bank has started to lift rates back towards more normal levels as fears of an economic crunch abate.

”The effects of the early stages of the fiscal stimulus on consumer demand are fading, but public infrastructure spending is starting to provide more impetus to demand,” Mr Stevens said in his statement today.

The jobless rate has been one of the surprises, with Australia’s unemployment holding well below 6 per cent when many had predicted a level in excess of 8 per cent. Business investment has also held up well in large measure due to the sharp rebound in China and India – leaving Australia as one of the few countries to start raising rates.

”Prospects for ongoing expansion of private demand, including business investment, have been strengthening. There have been some early signs of an improvement in labour market conditions,” Mr Steven said. ”The rate of unemployment is now likely to peak at a considerably lower level than earlier expected.”

The RBA believes economic growth ”is likely to be close to trend (in 2010) and inflation close to target.

Market response

In the aftermath of the rates news, the Aussie dollar initially dropped before recovering to about 91.5 US cents in recent trading, close to its level before the RBA statement.

Shares, also turned mildly lower before recovering to be about 0.2 per cent higher for the day with less than an hour of trading left.

Source :   www.theage.com.au

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Adult criminals sentenced to outdoor community work will from today wear bright yellow vests emblazoned with “Repay WA” as part of a Government repay wacampaign to increase public confidence in community service as a punishment.
   
Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter claimed community work had not been used as a sentencing option as often as it could be because there was a perception among the public, and sometimes the courts, that it was becoming “a joke”.
   
“For the public to view community work as an appropriate sentencing tool, they need to see the work carried out as ordered by the courts,” Mr Porter said.
   
The State Government has adopted the tougher stance after statistics showed more than 40 per cent of offenders sentenced to community work in 2007-08 did not finish their programs.
  
WA’s completion rate of 56 per cent, 14 per cent below the national average, confirmed it as the worstperforming jurisdiction in Australia.   
   
Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan had suggested the vests after seeing them used in Britain this year.
   
“These vests will go a long way towards providing reassurance to the community that justice is in fact being done with these sorts of offenders,” Mr O’Callaghan said. 
 
Mr Porter said a crackdown on breaches had resulted in 55 per cent of offenders complying with their orders by attending work sessions, up from 40 per cent in June last year.
   
The rules will be tightened further in the next year, with offenders hauled back to court if they miss work on any two occasions. The existing scheme allows for three consecutive breaches before action is taken.

Australian Lawyers Alliance WA president Tom Percy said in February he was appalled by the idea. He said it was designed to humiliate offenders.

But Corrective Services community and juvenile justice deputy commissioner Heather Harker said yesterday she did not think offenders would be taunted or abused. “Many people out working in the community wear high-visibility vests and in many respects this is no different,” she said.
   
The vests will be worn by adult offenders working outside — such as in maintenance, repairs and gardening.
   
Juveniles will not be forced to wear the vests, which have been printed by inmates at Casuarina Prison.
   
More than 5500 adults and 770 juveniles are completing community justice orders of between 10 and 240 hours with punishments such as cleaning, gardening, administration, recycling, kitchen duties or sorting donated clothes for charity.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Retailers are boosting staff numbers in anticipation of an improvement in consumer spending, according to the Australian Retailers Association.                 retail

The industry group’s executive director, Richard Evans, said surveys of association members showed a 12 per cent jump in employment for small and medium-sized retailers this month, painting a much more positive picture than figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The number of people employed in the retail sector fell by less than 0.1 per cent last month compared with February, on a seasonally adjusted basis, but the ABS also reported an increase in underutilisation—the proportion of the workforce that is either unemployed or not working as many hours as it would like.

The rate of underutilisation among female workers was 9.1per cent last month, compared with 6.4 per cent for men, which the ABS attributed to the larger proportion of women working in industries with high levels of casual employment, such as retail.

However, Mr Evans said most retailers were holding on to skilled staff in preparation for rising demand, with 68 per cent reporting no change in employment levels in the past quarter.

“A further 16 per cent of retailers actually increased their number of staff during the same period,” he said.

“Retailing works in cycles, and although the sector has experienced a downturn, good retailers are doing their best to hold on to skilled staff as consumer confidence continues to grow and a new type of consumer emerges.”

The same trend was in play among the bigger retailers, with David Jones boosting staffing levels around the Mother’s Day shopping period after the delivery of the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package in April led to a sharp rebound in sales.

Mr Evans said the stimulus package and lower interest rates meant most consumers had more cash available to spend, but “negative and fear-filled commentary” had fuelled a tendency among consumers to cut discretionary spending in favour of saving or paying off debt.

This meant shoppers would be in a better position to spend when confidence picks up again—with the ARA forecasting an improvement as soon as the September quarter.

Source  :  www.careerone.com.au

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HOUSE prices could rise by as much as 22 per cent during the next three years, an economic forecaster says.   house price

”The conditions are ripe for a sustained recovery in residential property prices,” according to BIS Shrapnel’s Residential Property Prospects, 2009 to 2012, report.

”Low interest rates, solid growth in rents and housing shortages are evident in most markets.

”However, the current economic malaise will mean confidence will only recover slowly during 2009/10.”

BIS Shrapnel senior project manager and study author Angie Zigomanis said that, at this stage, all of the action was occurring at the lower-priced end of the market.

This is due to a surge in first-home buyer demand as a result of the federal government’s first home owner boost scheme and low interest rates, he said.

BIS Shrapnel forecasts there will be 180,000 first-home buyers in 2009.

Although first-home buyer demand was expected to ease after the expiry of the government’s boost scheme at the end of 2009, upgraders and investors were expected to take the baton, Mr Zigomanis said.

”We expect rising confidence in the prospects for an economic recovery in 2010, so investors are likely to return in greater numbers, attracted by increased rental returns and low interest rates.”

Among the state capitals, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide will show the strongest price growth over the next three years, at 19 per cent.

More moderate growth is expected in Brisbane, Hobart, and Canberra, while price growth in Perth and Darwin is expected to be weak as the local economies of these cities are impacted by a decline in investment spending in the resources sector.

BIS Shrapnel estimates Sydney’s median house price at June 2009 to be $530,000, and predicts it will rise by mid-2012 to $630,000. Melbourne’s current median house price is estimated at $425,000, rising to $507,000 by June 2012.

In Adelaide, the median price is estimated at $360,000 and predicted to climb to $430,000 over the three years.

Among other cities around Australia, Newcastle and Wollongong are expected to benefit from the migration of residents from Sydney over the coming years.

The median house price in Newcastle is expected to soar 22 per cent over the three years, while Wollongong is forecast to see growth of 20 per cent in the same period.

In Brisbane, the average house is estimated to cost $391,000 now and is expected to cost $455,000 by mid-2012, an increase of 16 per cent.

Hobart’s median house price is estimated to be $335,000 and will rise by 15 per cent to $385,000 over the three year period.

An average house in Canberra is estimated to cost $440,000, increasing to $515,000 by 2012, a rise of 17 per cent.

In Perth, the estimated median house price is $425,000, expected to reach $475,000 in three years, up 12 per cent.

Darwin’s forecast median house price is $470,000, predicted to show an increase of 11 per cent over the three years.

For the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, BIS Shrapnel forecasts prices will increase by 14 per cent, while Townsville prices are expected to grow 13 per cent over the three years.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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