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Squeeze continues on housing investors

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New figures show investors have been further squeezed out of a housing market they once hogged.

Economists expect regulatory pressures on loans once favoured by investors, like interest-only, are placing persistent pressure on the investor sector.

JP Morgan economist Henry St John also believes the banking royal commission has been a catalyst for these dynamics to play out more quickly than otherwise expected as banks tighten their lending criteria.

"Falling house prices will also exacerbate the slowdown in investor credit growth," he said.

Reserve Bank figures released on Thursday show credit for housing investment grew by just 0.1 per cent in April, dragging the annual rate down for the third month in a row to 2.3 per cent.

This is well below the most recent annual peak of 10.8 per cent seen three years ago.

In comparison, housing credit among owner-occupiers rose 0.5 per cent in April for an annual pace of 8.6 per cent.

However, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned the high indebtedness of Australian households does pose a risk to an otherwise rosy economic outlook.

"Unexpectedly large corrections in house prices would reduce household wealth and could cut consumption and damage the construction sector," the OECD said in its latest Economic Outlook released in Paris on Wednesday.

It expects a pick-up in business investment and exports will help boost economic growth, alongside government investment in roads and other infrastructure projects.

It sees economic growth accelerating to around three per cent this year and next, much in line with the Reserve Bank and Treasury's predictions.

Treasurer Scott Morrison jumped on the report saying it was an endorsement of the forecasts in the federal budget released earlier this month.

He noted the OECD makes reference to government debt falling while spending controls and revenue integrity measures were helping to balance the books.

"That is a pretty strong endorsement," Mr Morrison told parliament.

Other data released on Thursday suggests the economy is on course to fulfil growth forecasts.

Capital expenditure by private businesses grew by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of 2018.

While this was smaller than the one per cent expected by economists, the 'equipment, plant and machinery' component that feeds directly into the national accounts rose 2.5 per cent and a healthy 9.3 per cent over the year.

The March quarter national accounts are due next Wednesday.

At this stage, economists are forecasting the economy expanded by a solid 0.8 per cent in the quarter, double the rate seen in the final three months of 2017.

This would lift the annual rate to 2.7 per cent from 2.4 per cent previously.

Economists will finalise their forecasts after company profits, inventories, international trade and government spending data are released early next week.


Topics: Research

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