Approvals for the construction of new homes have jumped by 11.7 per cent, boosted by a spike in apartment and townhouse construction activity in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

The increase outstripped market expectations of a 1.0 per cent decline for November.

The Australian dollar moved higher after the data’s release by Australian Bureau of Statistics at 1130 AEDT, rising from 78.43 US cents just beforehand to 78.53 US cents a few minutes later.

The local currency was trading at 78.52 US cents at 1210 AEDT.

A strong increase in permits in the volatile ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, drove the overall lift.

Approvals for ‘other dwellings’ leapt 30.6 per cent in November, from a 1.0 per cent decline in October.

Total approvals jumped a seasonally adjusted 37.9 per cent in Victoria to 8,946, while Tasmanian approvals rose 10.4 per cent, to 1,619.

Western Australian approvals had a more than 20 per cent turnaround, rising to 4.0 per cent, from October’s 16.3 per cent fall, while total approvals continued to fall in NSW and South Australia.

Approvals for private sector houses fell two per cent in November – only the second fall since last May – the Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Overall, total building approvals were now up 17.1 per cent over the 12 months to November.

Housing construction activity has been supported by

Record low interest rates and a rising population has supported housing construction activity, despite regulatory tightening of investor lending rules last March that has spurred the big lenders to raise rates on investor loans.

By Christian Edwards