Pete Wargent blogspot

Co-founder & CEO of AllenWargent property buyer's agents, offices in Brisbane (Riverside) & Sydney (Martin Place), & CEO of WargentAdvisory (providing subscription analysis, reports & services to institutional clients).

5 x finance/investment author - 'Get a Financial Grip: a simple plan for financial freedom’ (2012) rated Top 10 finance books by Money Magazine & Dymocks.

"Unfortunately so much commentary is self-serving or sensationalist. Pete Wargent shines through with his clear, sober & dispassionate analysis of the housing market, which is so valuable. Pete drills into the facts & unlocks the details that others gloss over in their rush to get a headline. On housing Pete is a must read, must follow - he's one of the finest property analysts in Australia" - Stephen Koukoulas, MD of Market Economics, former Senior Economics Adviser to Prime Minister Gillard.

"Pete is one of Australia's brightest financial minds - a must-follow for articulate, accurate & in-depth analysis." - David Scutt, Business Insider, leading Australian market analyst.

"I've been investing for over 40 years & read nearly every investment book ever written, yet I still learned new concepts in his books. Pete Wargent is one of Australia's finest young financial commentators." - Michael Yardney, Australia's leading property expert, Amazon #1 best-selling author.

"The most knowledgeable person on Aussie real estate markets - Pete's work is great, loads of good data & charts, the most comprehensive analyst I follow in Australia. If you follow Australia, follow Pete Wargent" - Jonathan Tepper, Variant Perception, Global Macroeconomic Research, author of the New York Times bestsellers 'End Game' & 'Code Red'.

"The level of detail in Pete's work is superlative across all of Australia's housing markets" - Grant Williams, co-founder RealVision - where world class experts share their thoughts on economics & finance - author of Things That Make You Go Hmmm, one of the world's most popular & widely-read financial publications.

"Wargent is a bald-faced realty foghorn" - David Llewellyn-Smith, 'MacroBusiness'.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

AFR: Rezoning in Sydney

Read me in today's Australian Financial Review here where I discuss rezoning in Sydney:



A number of Sydney suburbs close to transport hubs have been earmarked as Urban Activation Precincts (UAPs) as Sydney desperately tries to address its dwelling shortage. 

Reported the SMH:

Bill Randolph, from the University of NSW's City Futures Research Centre, said the precincts were located in the right areas. "If this doesn't work then we're really stuck as a city," he said.

In these precincts, high rise blocks should begin to spring up, but predictably, in suburbs such as Randwick - which will benefit from the new light rail, with an anticipated completion date of 2019 - there will be huge community backlash and an avalanche of good, old-fashioned eastern suburbs NIMBYism.

Areas earmarked included parts of North Ryde, Macquarie Park, Epping, Wentworth Point, Homebush, Mascot, Randwick itself and along Anzac Parade from Maroubra to Phillip Bay.

Note how developers have been mopping up entire streets making instant millionaires of homeowners whose plots have been rezoned for high density residential development.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

MYOB Pulse: When business expenditure is mixed with personal

Read my latest MYOB piece here, where I consider those tricky blurred lines between your business expenditure and your personal...


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hanging gardens of Barangaroo

Bonanza weekend

Following on from the theme of the earlier post - the great swathe of construction that is underway in New South Wales - it's been a huge weekend for Lend Lease.

At one end of Darling Harbour, the $2.5 billion Darling Harbour Live development is well underway, with the old SCC having now been demolished as I photographed myself here.

Indeed, 357 off-the-plan apartments went on sale for the Darling Square tower development yesterday morning (they call it Darling Harbour but it looks more like Haymarket to me) and every apartment sold in just a few hours.

Sydney Morning Herald estimated that the value of those sales was $650 million, but one suspects that the number was closer to half a billion. Either way, that's a massive day of sales. Interesting to hear that a partner at PwC spent $2.6 million of flats for his 8 and 10 year old kids to stay in when they go to Uni...

Barangaroo

Meanwhile, down the other end of the harbour this morning Lend Lease put on a site tour for the $6 billion Barangaroo project. I went down for a few hours to do the tour and here is what I saw...

Below is "T2", the second of the commercial towers (there will be three vast commercial towers, two smaller residential blocks and a huge hotel development). The below "T2" tower is only currently constructed up to half of its full height, and even this won't be the largest of the three towers.

That should give some idea of the sheer scale of the Barangaroo: it's an absolute monster project, Australia's largest ever. Note that the result of this will be a significant oversupply of commercial office space in the Sydney CBD, which is already evident in elevated vacancy rates and softening yields. Some 23,000 office workers will work in the international towers.



Some of the landscaping is underway. The underlying idea is to recreate the 1788 shoreline, the 'Hungry Mile' having been flattened decades ago and used as a shipping terminal. The guy in the suit is Andrew Wilson, the Barangaroo project's MD - I just managed to 'pap' the top of his head. 

The chap being interview on the right was the 24th Aussie Prime Minister - Mr. Paul Keating.

The Barangaroo name was selected via a competition, for which there were some 1600 entries. I think from memory half a dozen people chose the same inning name, being that of of Bennelong's wife (Bennelong Point is the name now given to the site upon which Sydney Opera House sits).


More landscaping down at the Harbour Bridge end of the project. The suburbs in the distance are McMahaons Point to the left and Lavender Bay, and Milsons Point, home to the famous Luna Park grin and amusement park attractions.


Thousand of tonnes of earth to be shifted. There will be 75 stores lining the frontage including restaurants, cafes and bars, and retail and health stores.


Note how the shoreline which was previously straight, has now been re-sculpted back to its 1788 contours. More than 2000 construction workers are to be on site at peak times, so it's happening quickly. The prject is bigger than London's Canary Wharf, but will be built in half the time. More than 500 indigenous persons will be involved in the creation of the project.


Controversially, the park area on the headland now comprises less space than had been implied by the original plans. An "iconic, luxury hotel" is proposed; and wait until Packer's casino plans finally get the full nod for the real community uproar. According to the planning documents, more than 50% of Barangaroo South will be zoned as "public space". 100% of the waterfront will be accessible to the public.


75,000 plants in total are to be shipped in, grown off site especially for the project, including native eucalypts.


The press hasn't gotten a hold of this yet, but planning permission has been lodged to have the shipping control tower demolished. "Not viable" to retain it is the word, problems with the lifts 'n' that...would cost too much to fix it etc. 

The development will be Australia's first large scale "carbon neutral" project - renewable energy solar power plants will be created off site which will generate power for 5000 homes, but not in Sydney...in regional New South Wales.


Looking back towards King Street Wharf - "T2" tower in the far distance under construction. Pyrmont wharves off to the right.


Quiz question for history geeks. I took this photo at 12.59pm. I took another photo two minutes later at 1.01pm and something had changed...what was it? Answer at the end of the blog post. 

Note in the backdrop to the left, the row of a couple of dozen housing commission dwellings at Miller's Point which are to be sold off and the residents relocated to previously vacant public housing land in Glebe. 


The back of the Miller's Point strip. Signs are up in protest of the relocation to new public housing.


And the front of the Miller's Point row, which overlooks the harbour and the entire Barangaroo project.


The answer to the poser, is that at 1pm every day, the golden globe on Sydney Obervatory Hill is 'dropped'. It was used as an accurate standard timepiece for the city from 1858, originally accompanied by a 1pm canon blast. I think it was also used for shipping purposes, but don't quote me on that.

The first building at Barangaroo will be coming online in 2015, with the entire $6 billion Barangaroo South project to be completed by 2020.

Friday, 20 June 2014

MYOB - 8 things playing soccer taught me about small business

Read my latest MYOB article here.


After the results this week, I might add a ninth - losing sucks.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Property Update: 4 Rules for investing your money...and 6 places you could put it

Read my article on Property Update here, and join more than 75,000 subscribers for regular news and updates.


Share markets continuing their meteoric rise in the US on Friday. With the iron ore price continuing its slide, Australian markets will likely open flat this week.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Neutral Bay

Ferry good

Was just over on the lower north shore today, Sydney Ferries one of the more pleasant ways to experience public transport...it's also great to be able to use the Opal cards on Sydney Ferries now.


And Neutral Bay is one of the great suburbs.

The size of Neutral Bay is approximately 2 square km, and the suburb has four parks covering nearly 5% of total area. 

The supply of new housing stock in these lower north shore garden suburbs is low, which puts continual upwards pressure on dwelling prices.

A little about the suburb...

Neutral Bay is a harbourside suburb on Sydney’s lower north shore.  

The suburb is located approximately 5km to the north of the CBD in the local government area of North Sydney Council. Surrounding suburbs include North Sydney, Cammeray, Milsons Point and Cremorne.  

Along the main road through the suburb, Military Road, is the main shopping district Neutral Bay Junction, It features many quality shops, restaurants and cafes. There is a shopping centre and mall with a supermarket and grocery shops.

The Oaks Hotel is a well-known and popular venue located on the corner of Military Road and Ben Boyd Road and has a number of restaurants and bars. 

There are also quality schools nearby on the lower north shore.

Demographics

The population of Neutral Bay in 2006 was 10,213 people, yet by 2011 the population was 9,387 showing a population decline of 8% in the area during that time - and that's not due to increasing vacancy rates! There's essentially a very limited new supply of dwellings.

According to RP Data research, the predominant age group in Neutral Bay is 25-34 years.  

Households in Neutral Bay are primarily childless couples and are likely to be repaying between over $4000 per month on mortgage repayments, and in general, people in Neutral Bay work in professional occupations. 

In 2006, 44.6% of the homes in Neutral Bay were owner-occupied compared with 46.0% in 2011, representing a fairly steady result.

Currently the median sales price of houses in the area is around $1.4 million and units around $700,000.

In terms of income distribution, the greatest number of households sits in the $130,000 to $180,000 annualised income bracket.

Transport

The Neutral Bay ferry wharf is located at the end of Hayes Street and the Kurraba Wharf (see my photo above) on Kurraba Point can be accessed by Kurraba Road. Ferries run to the city with a travel time of around 10 minutes. 
   
The Warringah Freeway runs along the western border of Neutral Bay, providing links south to the Sydney CBD and to the north. The road is often very busy during peak hours.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sun Herald shares race - Week 3 of 4

:-(

The sad news is that, with it having been the long Queen's Birthday weekend, there are only two more days of trading until the end of the Sun Herald shares race (sad face).

While I was in 5th place at the end of Week 3, the more heartening news is that, since last week, despite an ongoing soft performance of the market at large, my cunning plan of picking a few cyclicals including no fewer than four listed property trusts has begun to bear fruit (click image):


As reported by Fairfax itself this morning, the listed property trust sector is getting red hot, while mining and resources stocks (of which I have picked none) are continuing to get beaten down.

My portfolio has thus rebounded back since last week to well over $100,000 thus giving me an outside chance of causing an upset victory in the last week, though in reality I'd likely need a fairly sizeable move from one of my wildcard picks today or tomorrow. 

The best news of all - and by far the most important from my perspective - is that the Herald mugshot this week did not besmirch me with a crimson hue, and for that, I am most grateful.

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A whole raft of data out at 11.30am this morning, including the Roy Morgan consumer confidence survey and NAB business survey for May, inflation figures from China, and the April Housing Finance data from the ABS. 

Stay tuned for more.

Canberra

A couple more images of Canberra. The 'old' or provisional Parliament House, and the famous Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has been situated opposite Old Parliament House since 1972.



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Alas no cheap movie tickets this weekend as the Sydney Film Festival is in town down at Circular Quay. 

Watched the Pulp movie: a film about life, death and supermarkets, which is set in Sheffield, and the subject of which is one of the city's non-cutlery exports (the band, Pulp). 

An obvious 10/10 for me, but then I'm inherently biased.


Last night also saw the end of the brilliant Vivid Sydney light shows around the City. Not sure if there is a campaign in place to keep these going permanently, but there should be. It's been absolutely superb.

RBA changes stance on first homebuyers

Strike or shift?

There's been a long-running debate about the so-called "first homebuyer strike" in Australia.

It never really made any sense, since first homebuyer numbers have remained very solid in states which have grants for first-times such as Western Australia, where 20-25% of loans written continue to be for first-timers.

Yet mysteriously FHBs had apparently disappeared in states such as New South Wales, crowded out by greedy Baby Boomer investors.

I summed up the basic issue incomplete records issue at the beginning of the year here, but note that it was raised many months before that on the chat forums

Further, as noted here as mortgage data broke new record heights, it's important to listen to what the data is actually telling you, which has not been commensurate with an entire sector of the market casually sitting on the sidelines.

There has been a shift, certainly.

First homebuyers are getting older, often buying in couples rather than alone.

Many are choosing to  buy an investment property as their first step, especially in Sydney.

But they are not "on strike", as has been claimed. 

RBA reporting

The Reserve Bank released its chart pack to the end of May last week here, and it seems that the central bank has at long last reached the same conclusion, completely stripping the first homebuyer data out of its chart pack.

Housing Loan Approvals graph

Previously, the split had been shown between owner-occupiers, investors and first-timers, but since the FHB data was both incomplete and non-sensical, a decision has clearly finally been reached to have it pulled. 

Other RBA charts show building approvals to be approaching something of a crossroads, although remaining close to record highs:

Private Residential Building Approvals graph

And dwelling prices remain in an uptrend.

Housing Prices graph

The rest of the chart pack, which you can see here makes for interesting reading as always.

In particular, note the near-exponential rate of growth in bulk commodity export volumes which are now overwhelmingly driving Australia's economic growth. 

Bulk Commodity Exports graph

With a third of Australia's annual exports by value destined for China, it's a highly leveraged play.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bank

Australia's major banks have been wealth creation engines over the past decade...except for one.

National Australia Bank (NAB) has failed to create anything like the results of the other 'Big 4'.

Profitability has been sliding, and the ROE has remained inferior to the other major banks.

While the share prices of all the other banks have soared by 80-100% over past decade, NAB has continued to tread water.

At least part of the reason has been NAB's UK exposure which has held back its profitability.

As a result, NAB may appear to be cheap.

With a price to book ratio of well under 2, a price/earnings ratio of under 13, and when you compare it to the miserable returns from a bank account or term deposit, a fully FRANKED dividend yield of 5.8%, it all might look remarkably tempting (click chart):




Remember the old adage, though: "it is better to own a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price"...

D-Day anniversary

This week marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

25 years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Arromanches beach in Normandy, albeit not really old enough to fully appreciate the true significance of the events there of June 6, 1944.

Alas, no trip to Normandy this weekend, but did manage to get out the Australian War Memorial in Canberra - 4th visit and it gets better each time, surely one of the best of its kind.




US economy adds 217,000 jobs...again (employment back to pre-crisis levels)

Recovery continues

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its non-farm payrolls data and, yet again, the US economy added a hefty 217,000 jobs in May.

And that strong figure comes off the back of another heavy print of 282,000 jobs added in April.

Total employment in the US has now returned to its pre-crisis level.

As the population has grown since that time, the unemployment level remains at 6.3%, which is a great recovery from the double digit levels of a few years ago, but shows that the recovery still has some way to run to take unemployment back down to the sub 4.5% level it was at before the recession began (click image):


Ever since the US economy recovery started a recurring theme has been bearish pundits saying that it's not a recovery.

You can keep trying to rail against it, but the numbers tell a different story, which is to say, 44 consecutive months of employment growth, which is rapidly closing in on the all time US record of 48 consecutive months.

If you think that's not a recovery, I reckon you need help reading charts.

The payroll data in the world's largest economy is strengthening, and that's great to see.

Warning shot

In spite of this, there is something to watch out for, and that is how US stock markets react when the quantitative easing stimulus is eventually wound back.

Stock markets have been rising relentlessly in the US for more than half a decade now, oftentimes both on the back of good news (recovery imminent!) and bad (more stimulus for longer!).

As a result both the Dow and S&P 500 are into uncharted territory, threatening unprecedented levels of 17,000 and 2,000 respectively.

Correction due...


Friday, 6 June 2014

Sydney unit prices to rise 15% in 2 years

Notes BIS Shrapnel, as reported by Property Observer:

"According to BIS Shrapnel, behind the strength of the property market are low vacancy rates, low interest rates, relatively attractive yields and the expectation of capital gain.
BIS Shrapnel’s Apartments in Sydney Suburbs 2014 to 2019 report points to strong off the plan sales, which will underpin further rises in new high density apartment construction.
No oversupply is expected, but vacancy rates should ease and reduce pressure on prices “by the time the Reserve Bank starts looking at tightening interest rate policy” the report notes, suggesting that off the plan sales will come off their peak over 2016.
Senior manager and report author for BIS Shrapnel, Angie Zigomanis, said that the peak in apartment prices and sales by 2004 did result in the market being overvalued and oversupplied.
“The subsequent downturn resulted in the oversupply being absorbed by 2006/07, but it took several more years of rental growth before returns increased sufficiently for residential property to become attractive to investors again,” said Zigomanis.
“By the time interest rate policy was eased at the end of 2011, the Sydney market was coiled like a spring, and ready to take off,” he said.
“Successive cuts to interest rates continued to reduce the gap between rental income and mortgage repayments, causing investor demand to surge and drive up prices.
15% forecast increase in unit prices over the next two years
Overseas buyers’ influence was also noted by Zigomanis, noting they’ve been buying apartments within inner Sydney and selected centres.
Gen X and Gen Y are also starting to contribute, with owner occupiers’ presence growing. Notably, however, investors are still the overarching dominance in the Sydney apartment market."

Negative interest rates

Times have changed

The European Central Bank (ECB) announced last night that it was cutting its interest rate to just 0.15% from 0.25%, and cut its deposit rate to negative i.e. banks will be charged money to deposit funds overnight with the bank.

The ECB is concerned about the the threat of deflation and sagging economic growth, and will consider extraordinary measures to combat the threats, including quantitative easing (QE).

There have been a number of interesting articles overnight discussing the implications of negative interest rates. 

Deflation the threat

Deflation, where households postpone spending plans indefinitely as they expect the cost of goods to keep falling, is the negative death spiral feared by central banks.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England left its base rate on hold yet again at 0.50% where it has been since March 2009.

The Bank of England's decision was taken in spite soaring house prices, with the Halifax House Price Index reporting that dwelling prices have jumped by a vaguely ridiculous 3.9% of £7000 in a month. 

Clearly that didn't happen, but what is certainly the case is that house prices in London and the south-east are threatening to get out of control.

New era

For years now a number of developed countries have been running an effective Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) in order to stimulate economic growth and combat the threat of deflation.

Are we now heading for Negative Interest Rate Policies (NIRP)?

In fact, with an official cash rate of 2.50%, Australia now looks to have a relatively high interest rate, although it is of course remarkably low in historic terms (click chart):


Neutral rate is much lower

There are plenty of articles and opinions around which take the line that Australia's housing markets will be in for some trouble when the Reserve Bank hikes interest rates "back to normal" at around 7% or so.

Question the underlying assumption, though.

This is not to say that we won't get back there one day if inflationary days return, but for the reasons I explained in this piece here, a "neutral" cash rate in today's era of higher household debt might even be somewhere closer to half of that figure: 

"With the proviso that there must be an element of intuition employed, I'd estimate that today that number for a neutral rate would be in the 3.75%-4.25% range.

Why? 

Partly because of the strong Australian dollar which can artificially cause lower growth.

Partly because household debt levels are higher than they used to be, and thus each movement or adjustment in the cash rate is likely to affect consumer intentions more than was the case in times past. 

Another factor still is that bank lending spreads have increased again..."

Read the rest here

Yesterday's announcements saw the Aussie dollar jump all the way back above 93.3 US cents, adding further weight to the case for potential interest hikes now having disappeared over the horizon.

If there's one thing we don't need in Australia at the moment, it's an Aussie dollar heading too high again.

Rates heading lower still?

I wrote 7 months ago that it would likely be ongoing low interest rates for 2014 (and possibly even lower interest rates) and not a lot has changed in that time to change that viewpoint.

This week's GDP result for the first quarter illustrated the challenges perfectly: economic growth is now being driven overwhelmingly by mining production, so if the boom in net exports stumbles either in terms of bulk commodity volumes or commodity prices, the rate cutting cycle may soon resume. 

Neither household consumption nor housing construction has been contributing significant growth to GDP, suggesting that more cuts may yet be needed if net exports do not continue to soar (click chart): 


I note that a number of experienced commentators has opined that Australia will eventually be forced to join other developed countries with a cash rate of close to zero.

Perhaps it's just that we are taking a long, slow march to zero rather than diving there as other countries did during the financial crisis.

Certainly futures market have given up the ghost on pricing in hikes any time soon. The next interest rate adjustment might just as likely be down as up (click chart):


No exciting local data today.

However, next week the ABS releases its Housing Finance and Lending Finance data for April 2014 - where we'll be keeping a close eye on the level of fixed loans for investment purposes - as well as updating us with the all-important Labour Force figures for May.

Interesting times. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Winter

What a glorious city...



Record high mortgage demand in May

Low interest rates fuelling investor demand

I suppose one of the problems with writing a blog about shares and property is that you run the risk of repeating yourself, which is of course, one of the problems with writing a blog about shares and property.

As regular readers will know, my view is that in the absence of high rates of unemployment in Australia and with our strident levels of population growth, property prices are likely to keep rising until interest rates are moved higher again.

The reasons are very simple.

Cash in the bank account is paying next to nothing after inflation and taxes. 

Aussies already have more exposure to the share markets than some of our developed country counterparts thanks to compulsory superannuation, and many were spooked by the GFC share price crash.

Instead of buying when the share markets are on sale, a great proportion of Aussies apear inclined to stick with "what they know" and plump instead for investment property.

With most mortgages being of the variable rate variety, the property markets are highly sensitive to interest rates, and in particular, with interest rates at record lows, one should expect to see investor demand at corresponding record highs.

AFG index

Australia's largest mortgage aggregator Australian Finance Group (AFG) released its mortgage index for May yesterday.

The index showed how the average mortgage size has picked up over the past year, largely driven by New South Wales and Victoria i.e. Sydney and Melbourne (click chart):


As noted above, with low interest rates, I'd expect to see many more investors.

Incredibly, some 49% of mortgage demand in New South Wales is for investment mortgages, while investor demand in Queensland is taking off apace, soon threatening to run as high as 40%, which is a very significantly increasing trend (click chart):


There's been plenty of questionable commentary around about property prices "falling" in May, with plenty less recognition of the shortcomings and seasonality of the index which spawned the supposed falls.

It's possible that price growth has flattened out somewhat, but it seems highly doubtful that falling prices make any sense on an aggregate basis given the rampant levels of demand still around.

May index breaks records

In any case, AFG's mortgage index released yesterday showed mortgage demand soaring to the highest level it has ever recorded in Australia. So I guess the market is pretty strong then (click chart):


Of the $4,200 million of mortgage demand in May, more than $1,300 million was for the state of New South Wakes alone, where demand is more than 25% higher than it was a year ago. This suggests to me that the Sydney market will remain very strong through 2014 (click chart):


That's pretty much my on-the-ground experience too, having been outbid for two properties in the last week, one of which went to a silly price.

There is more stock coming on to the market, but there is also masses of demand still there to soak it up.

That's why I believe dwelling prices will keep ticking up until mortgage rates revert higher.

RBA viewpoint

For all the talk of Reserve Bank intervention and the deployment of macroprudential measures, to my mind there has been barely a shred of evidence to suggest such from the RBA itself.

And, after all, it's the RBA's viewpoint that matters, not yours or mine.

Australia's central bank appears to remain the picture of sanguine calm as house prices continue to increase...


Growth smashes expecations

Economy grows very strongly

The ABS released the Australian National Accounts yesterday, and, well, an upside surprise, with the economy growing by 1.1% over the first quarter over the year and a very satisfying 3.5% over the past year.

That smashed the expectations of the market and now tallies an incredible 90 quarters since we came out of the last recession in 1991 (click chart):


The growth in the economy for the quarter was driven overwhelmingly by booming exports, particularly of bulk commodities.

The housing industry is starting to make its much-needed contribution, but it will still need to do more - much more - thus necessitating lower interest rates for longer (click chart):


As always there are various question marks about the rate at which the economy can continue to grow at going forward.

Commodity prices have slipped since the first quarter ended, there are doubts about the longevity of the housing construction boom, and consumer spending is apparently going to dry up due to confidence being sapped by the Budget, though personally I don't believe that will happen - people with surplus money in their pockets will probably keep spending it. 

With net exports contributing a crunching 1.4% to growth in the quarter, we should be thankful to our mining states, Western Australia in particular, for keeping the economy humming along.

As I looked at here yesterday, export volumes in the Pilbara have continued to expand apace throughout the second quarter too (click chart):


Charts are a bit boring when it comes to mining exports - look up on the internet some of the photos of the iron ore being shipped out of the Pilbara - a truly awe-inspiring sight (note: resist ore puns here).

By state

Interestingly, if one looks at state final demand, which excludes the impact of booming net exports, there is one state which is towering head and shoulders above the rest (click chart):


Economic activity in New South Wales is exceptionally strong, with jobs growth, retail trade and construction (both residential and non-residential) all performing in a very robust manner.

With some colossal projects underway and a new major financial hub being carved out, I believe that Sydney especially will continue to go from strength to strength.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Oresome volumes

Gosh.

The Port Hedland Port Authority just released the latest cargo figures for May 2014.

Tonnage shipped for iron ore increased yet again by another 3.6% in May, up to another record high of a colossal 36.000d/mt.

An incredible 85% of that iron ore cargo is bound for China & Taiwan, with Japan and Korea mopping up the remainder (click chart):


The monthly volumes being shipped out of Port Hedland in the Pilbara have increased both relentlessly and phenomenally over recent times.

The volumes shipped are more than 65% higher than they were in October 2012, with a huge share of the iron ore headed for China, where inventories are reportedly piling up (may be risky...).

Despite the declines in the iron ore price, which have been offset by a falling Aussie dollar, net exports added a whopping 1.4 percentage points to today's GDP result.

I'll take a little bit more of a detailed look at the GDP figures later, but in short the economy grew by a strong 4.9% year on year in nominal terms, the GDP result being a none-too-shabby 1.1% for the quarter and 3.5% for the past year.

The rest of the year may see a slower economy, in part due to the lower iron ore price itself and slowing consumer expenditure, but nevertheless a fine result in today's National Accounts which smashed expectations.

New South Wales was again a standout performer. 

Immigration remains immense

Immigration peaking out

A bit of a fall is recorded in the net long term arrivals this month.

This is perhaps what we'd expect to see at this stage in the cycle as house prices heat up, though in truth I'm not really sure about how valid such a link would actually be.

In any case, on a rolling 12 monthly basis the net long term migration figures are still tracking at close to 380,000, despite the recent declines.

Throw in the births versus deaths dynamic and we're still looking at extremely strong population growth in Australia, and net long term arrivals are tracking at simply miles above their long term average levels (click chart):


As for short term visitors, on a seasonally adjusted basis the figures for April showed the number of visitors to brushing up against all-time record highs at more than 572,000.

So that's a very big short-term visitors number too (click chart):

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Cranewatch

The awesome $6 billion Barangaroo project is set to look like this. Here's how it is progressing today...


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Slight change of plan for this weekend's bargain movie. Instead of going to Broadway, went to Dendy Opera Quays theatre which is located just along from the Opera House to use some $7 vouchers to watch Sunshine on Leith.

The movie is a remake of a stage musical, and with Edinburgh looking glorious in the sunshine it's almost enough to make me follow my Jock roots and move to Scotland. But not quite.

Equal parts entertaining and amusing - 7/10.