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THE average new mortgage in Australia has hit an all-time high of $367,000 according to mortgage broker Australian Finance Group.

But Queenslanders have been more conservative than the rest of the country, with the average new mortgage in Queensland sitting at $325,000.

The average home loan in New South Wales is now $433,000; in Western Australia it is $391,000 and $386,000 in the Northern Territory.

Australians have been increasingly taking on bigger mortgages, with the average new home loan 6.4 per cent larger than it was in May 2009.

Queensland bucked this trend, however, with new mortgages taken out in November $10,000 smaller than the previous month and close to the state’s January low of $323,000.

Home loans in both Victoria and New South Wales grew since May – up 12.1 per cent and 10.7 per cent respectively.

The news comes after the Reserve Bank of Australia announced on Tuesday that it was lifting the official cash rate for the third successive time.

The latest 0.25 per cent rise, when passed on by lenders, will cost home-owners with a $367,000 mortgage on a standard variable rate an extra $56 a month, while those slugged with a 0.45 per cent rate hike face an increase of $102 per month.

First-home buyers accounted for just 13.7 per cent of all new mortgages in November, down from their peak of 28.1 per cent in March.

Investors have been steadily returning to the property market over the past four months and represent a third of all new mortgages in November.

Of those who took out a new mortgage in November, only 2.1 per cent opted for a fixed-rate, down from 3 per cent the previous month.

Total numbers of new mortgages were lower than previous months.

Mark Hewitt of Australian Financial Group said: “October and November are seasonally strong months in the calendar, but we’ve seen two straight months of decline.

“Larger average mortgages and greater activity by investors are usually signs of a confident market but confidence is still fragile.

“We believe the RBA hiked rates too quickly and too soon.”

Source  :  www.thenews.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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