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Construction market dips Down Under

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Hopes of a revival in the Australian built environment sector have been dealt twin blows this week.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed building approvals fell in December 2011. The 1 per cent month-on-month drop followed a 10 per cent rise in approvals in November, which had sparked hopes of a recovery.

House prices in the Lucky Country’s eight capital cities also fell 1 per cent – over the final quarter of the year – separate ABS data revealed.

Victoria saw the greatest fall in building approvals in December, with a seasonally adjusted drop of 16.7 per cent during the month. South Australia and New South Wales saw lesser falls, while Tasmania and Western Australia saw slight improvements.

Queensland was the best place for architects to be, with a 24.6 per cent hike in approvals.

In line with Victoria’s fall in approvals, the state capital Melbourne saw the joint largest drop in house prices, level with Adelaide.

Hobart, Canberra and Perth were the only places where house prices rose over the quarter. But all eight cities saw average residential prices fall over the year, with a nationwide drop of almost 5 per cent in 2011.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said weak labour force data and consumer confidence was keeping demand for housing low.

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