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THE market odds have moved firmly against an interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank in February.

The sharp change in direction, which began on Tuesday after the central bank revealed its December 1 meeting minutes, accelerated yesterday following a speech by RBA deputy governor Ric Battellino.

Mr Battellino signalled that rates could stay on hold when the RBA next meets in February, saying the “overall stance” of monetary policy was “back in the normal range”.

His comments, at the Australian Finance & Banking Conference in Sydney, surprised the markets, triggering a slump in the Australian dollar to below US90.

Last night the dollar was hovering around US89.70.

Financial market betting on a 25-basis point rate hike in February retreated from a 67 per cent chance to 45 per cent.

Mr Battellino said that although the cash rate still seemed “unusually low” at 3.75 per cent, monetary policy was back “in the normal range” because the current level of deposit, housing and business lending rates made the cash rate equivalent to a “before the crisis” level of 4.75 per cent.

“Taking these considerations into account, it would be reasonable to conclude that the overall stance of monetary policy is now back in the normal range, though in the expansionary segment of that range,” he said.

The deputy governor’s remarks were made half an hour after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed economic growth in the September quarter was weaker than expected.

The national accounts showed GDP edged up just 0.2 per cent in the three months to September, half the pace of growth expected by the market, for an annual rate of 0.5 per cent.

The main drag on growth was a slump in exports which coincided with a jump in imports.

However, demand from households, businesses buying more equipment and government investment was solid.

ANZ acting chief economist Warren Hogan said the GDP figures indicated there was little urgency to get official interest rates back to a neutral setting, adding that Mr Battellino’s comments had “dealt a solid blow” to the prospect of substantial gains in the cash rate over coming months.

“Put another way, the emergency setting for interest rates has now been removed and policy will be adjusted as and when required by economic conditions,” he said.

Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly told reporters after the bank’s annual meeting in Melbourne yesterday that the RBA was likely to raise rates “very carefully” in 2010.

However, she said the official cash rate was not quite yet at a “normal” level.

Mrs Kelly said she remained cautious about the economic outlook while the bank’s chairman Ted Evans said a “V-shaped” recovery for Australia was unlikely.

“It will be a long recovery and that’s what our plans are based on,” he said. 

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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THIS North Beach property could confirm whether Perth’s struggling real estate market has turned the corner.  home in nb

Real estate experts say that during the height of WA’s property boom the 1346sqm ocean-front house on West Coast Drive would have fetched more than $5 million.

It is for auction on Saturday and the selling price will be a strong indication of whether property prices, especially for top-end homes, have started to recover.

Nexus sales consultant Peter Berridge, who specialises in the North Beach area, said the property would have been highly sought after during the 2006-07 housing boom.

“It’s a nice elevated lot, with a nice frontage. It’s got everything going for it,” Mr Berridge said.

“I don’t think it would be an over-exaggeration to think it might have sold for in excess of $5 million (back then). We were going through an era where it didn’t seem to matter what you paid for it, you were always going to make a packet until the proverbial hit the fan.”

Mr Berridge said he believed values had dropped about 40 per cent since the property peak.

“The last sale was 341 West Coast Drive in Trigg that sold for $2.2 million and it was a very choice piece of land _ something like that could have possibly pulled $4 million in 2007 and I can mention lesser blocks that sold for more than $4 million,” he said.

According to Landgate, North Beach has enjoyed solid property value growth in the past decade.
It recorded a 19.4 per cent average annual growth rate in the 10 years to December 2008. It also recorded strong growth last year and was among the Perth metropolitan area’s Top 10 performing suburbs, with a 17.7 per cent jump in median house prices.

But during this period it recorded a low volume of sales activity, with just 19 homes sold.
This could have skewered the statistics.

“There’s no doubt that the market for premium coastal property has come back since the height of 2007,” Real Estate Institute of WA president Rob Druitt said.

“Indications are that the first signs of recovery are starting to come through now, so there’s certainly a unique opportunity for buyers who are (looking) in that market,” he said.

Mr Druitt said it has been a bottom-up recovery, so if the top end was reasonably priced and sold, it could give a good indication that Perth’s entire property market had seen the worst.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Two in three West Australian adults are expected to take part in a $20 million splurge on lottery tickets in the hope of scooping Australia’s record $90 million Lotto jackpot next week.
  
Lottery fever has gripped WA and it is estimated five times more tickets than usual will be bought in the State for Tuesday’s Oz Lotto draw.
  
The $90 million prize pool is unprecedented in Australian lottery history and is the culmination of nine weeks of rolled-over Oz Lotto prizes.
  
Lotterywest chief executive Jan Stewart said lottery ticket sales in WA were up 6 per cent on last year and were expected to jump even higher for Tuesday’s bumper draw.
  
“Our experience is that irrespective of the economic climate, people seem to continue to spend the few dollars each week they have been accustomed to spending on a Lotto or scratchie ticket and to find a little more when there is something special on like a big Oz Lotto or Powerball jackpot or a Saturday Lotto Superdraw,” Ms Stewart said. 
  
WA is a lottery-loving State, a fact which could be attributed to the ban on poker machines that has reduced gambling choices in the West.
  
Whether WA is luckier or just plays more, the State is full of Lotto winners. Over the past 12 months, seven of the 12 major (Division One) wins in the Oz Lotto game across Australia have gone to WA.
  
West Australian adults spend an average of $5.98 every week on the lottery and the clamour for tickets for Tuesday’s draw has shown they are spending more than ever.
  
Greg Mills, of Yokine Lottery Centre, said the number of people coming in to buy Lotto tickets had soared from an average of 250 a day to 350 in the run-up to Tuesday’s game.
  
“It’s pumping. People all want a share of this $90 million. It’s creating a lot of interest,” Mr Mills said.
  
Sadly, though, the chances of winning are slim — 45 million to one.
  
To improve your chances, it might be worth taking note of which numbers come up most often. The number 5 has been drawn 14 times over the past 50 Oz Lotto draws, while 45, 35 and 28 have come up 13 times each.
  
At the other end of the scale, the number 38 has emerged only three times in the past 50 draws. Numbers 6, 14, 36 and 39 were almost as unlucky, with four appearances each. 
  
You could also buy your ticket in one of WA’s lottery hotspots. Kalgoorlie has had the most Division One wins over the past five years, with $31.7 million won by eight players.
  
Perth CBD is also a lucky place, with more than $26.4 million shared between 11 Division One ticket holders over the same period.
  
Morley has had the highest number of Division One winners with 12 tickets sharing $9.8 million.
  
The biggest Division One win of all time was $58.7 million, which was won in Victoria in the Powerball game in June 2008.

Source  :   www.thewest.com.au

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