Weekly economic review - Rural Bank

The combined total value of housing finance approvals across both owner occupier and investor segments (and excluding refinance) declined 2.1% in January to be down 20.6% annually. The value of owner occupier finance was down 2.3% (-15.4% annually) while the value of investor finance fell 3.7% (24.6% annually). The total number of owner occupier housing finance (excluding re-financing) was down 1.2% in January, the third consecutive fall and down 14.7% over the year.

The NAB’s monthly business survey settled at a lower level in February reversing the bounce in January from the sharply weaker December data, confirming the volatility over the New Year period. Business confidence fell two points to +2 while business conditions fell three points to +4. The decline in business conditions this month was driven by a fall in profitability (-4 index points to +1) and trading conditions (-2 index points to +8) while the employment index remained unchanged in the month at +5 index points).

The Westpac Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index fell 4.8% in March. The monthly percentage decline was the strongest since September 2015 and drove sentiment into negative territory to 98.8 points (its lowest level since September 2017), below 100 indicating the number of pessimists out-number optimists. Confidence was pulled lower this month largely due to all the negative press generated by the weak December quarter GDP data and the media talk of a “per capita recession” plus the decision to keep RBA monetary policy on-hold and despite a further fall in the pump price of petrol. Job security fears lifted in March with the unemployment expectations index rising by 8.9% - the highest level in two years.

About Rural Bank Rural Bank has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited since 2010. It is the only Australian

owned and operated dedicated agribusiness bank in the country, providing exceptional financial services, knowledge and leadership for Australian farmers to grow.

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