30/09/2009 - 13:21

Consumer spending raises rate rise risk

30/09/2009 - 13:21

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Western Australian consumers joined the rest of the country in flocking back to the shopping malls in August, as the nation spent $19.8 billion without the aid of cash handouts from the government, new data shows.

Western Australian consumers joined the rest of the country in flocking back to the shopping malls in August, as the nation spent $19.8 billion without the aid of cash handouts from the government, new data shows.

In seasonally adjusted terms all states, except the Northern Territory, had an increase in August 2009, with WA recording a moderate increase in retail spending of 0.4 per cent.

However, such confidence in spending - the third highest monthly spree on record - does raise the risk of an interest rate rise this year.

States with the largest increases were Queensland and Tasmania, both increasing by 1.4 per cent, South Australia recored a 1.1 per cent gain and New South Wales' spending grew by 0.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, retail spending in the Northern Territory fell by 0.7 per cent.

Official data showed retail spending rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.9 per cent last month, after weakening in both June and July as the initial impact of the government's 'cash splash' faded.

Economists' forecasts has centred on a 0.5 per cent rise in retail spending in August.

However, demand for new homes unexpectedly eased in August, despite the government's more generous first homeowners grant and generational low mortgage rates.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed August building approvals fell by a seasonally-adjusted 0.1 per cent to 12,126 units, compared with expectations for 2.5 per cent rise.

Still, demand for mortgages continued to be the main prop for credit activity in August with businesses shunning loans, according to Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) data.

Total credit rose by just 0.1 per cent in August to be 2.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, and well shy of the 10.6 annual rate recorded in August 2008.

Economists had forecast a 0.2 per cent monthly rise in credit for August.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens warned again this week that the central bank would not keep the cash rate at an "emergency" low of 3.0 per cent longer than is necessary.

Financial markets are pricing in the risk of 25 basis-point increases in both November and December.

The RBA board holds its monthly board meeting next Tuesday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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