31 Jan 2011

Slump in permits for new housing

7:07 pm on 31 January 2011

Consents issued by local councils for new houses and apartments fell dramatically in December.

Statistics New Zealand figures show 994 consents were issued, the lowest for any month since records began in 1965.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, consents fell 18% in December, following a 7% increase in November.

The latest figures contributed to the New Zealand dollar falling by half a cent on Monday afternoon, with the Kiwi buying US76.9 cents.

BNZ economist Doug Steel says the fall was mainly due to markets' concerns at the unfolding situation in Eygpt, but the building consents figures have not helped.

Mr Steel says the numbers confirm the sluggish state of the building industry, casting doubt on comments from the Reserve Bank last week.

Keeping the official cash rate on hold last Thursday, the bank noted tentative signs of stabilisation in the housing market.