Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James

Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James
Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James


Car affordability is at record highs, and Aussie consumers have responded, taking out loans totalling almost $6 billion over the past year to be used cars. Lending for used cars hasn’t been as high for 12 years. 

Budding owners of new homes remain active – loans to buy blocks of land hit $7.6 billion over the year to July, up 21 per cent on a year ago. The home building boom has legs.

The petrol price continues to drift higher. The terminal gate price is 3 cents a litre higher than a month ago and up almost 9 cents a litre from June lows. The good news is that a stronger Aussie dollar is serving to restrain the cost of imported oil, and thus local pump prices. Consumers are already upset about the cost of bills like electricity and gas bills, as well as higher medical and education fees. A lift in petrol prices could further restrain consumer spending.

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Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James

What do the figures show?

Petrol prices

According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol rose by 0.1 cents to 126.8 cents a litre in the past week. The metropolitan petrol price was flat at 126.5 cents per litre while the regional price rose by 0.3 cents to 127.5 cents per litre.

Average unleaded petrol prices across states and territories over the past week were: Sydney (up by 18.7 cents to 134.0 c/l), Melbourne (down by 6.7 cents to 122.1 c/l), Brisbane (down by 8.6 cents to 125.1 c/l), Adelaide (down by 15.4 cents to 118.8 c/l), Perth (up by 1.1 cents to 127.0 c/l), Darwin (unchanged at 128.2 c/l), Canberra (up by 0.4 cents to 127.8 c/l) and Hobart (up by 0.1 cents to 135.9 c/l). 

The national average Australian price of diesel petrol was unchanged at 126.7 cents per litre. The metropolitan price fell by 0.1 cent to 126.5 c/l, while the regional average price rose 0.1 cents to 126.8 c/l. 

Today, the national average wholesale (terminal gate) unleaded petrol price stands at 116.2 cents a litre, up by 1.5 cents a litre over the week. The terminal gate diesel price stands at 113.10 cents a litre, up 0.8 cents.

Last week the key Singapore gasoline price rose by US95 cents or 1.4 per cent to US$71.20 a barrel. In Australian dollar terms the Singapore gasoline price fell by 87 cents or 1.0 per cent due to a stronger Aussie dollar to $87.67 a barrel or 55.14 cents a litre.

MotorMouth records the following average retail prices for capital cities today: Sydney 132.4c; Melbourne 119.0c; Brisbane 120.5c; Adelaide 114.9c; Perth 116.7c; Canberra 128.3c; Darwin 128.0c; Hobart 135.8c.

Lending Finance:

Total new lending commitments (housing, personal, commercial and lease finance) fell from 7-month highs in July, down 3.8 per cent. Commitments had risen by 8.3 per cent in June. Commitments are still up 4.5 per cent over the year.

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Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James

In trend terms, lending rose 0.6 per cent in July to a 21-month high.

All housing finance rose by 0.8 per cent in July with construction and purchase up 0.9 per cent and alterations and additions down 3.5 per cent.

Commercial finance fell by 6.3 per cent in July after rising by 13.4 per cent in June. Within commercial commitments, fixed lending fell by 5.4 per cent while revolving credit fell by 9.7 per cent. Commercial loans are up 7.4 per cent on a year ago. 

Personal finance commitments were flat in July after rising by 1.5 per cent in June – the first gain in six months. Fixed lending rose by 3.6 per cent while revolving credit fell by 5.6 per cent. Personal loans are down 15.5 per cent on a year ago. In trend terms personal loans are at 141⁄2-year lows (lowest since December 2002).

Lease finance fell by 7.2 per cent in July to stand 15.1 per cent higher over the year.

China inflation:

Chinese consumer prices rose 1.8 per cent in the year to August (forecast 1.6 per cent), up from 1.4 per cent in July. Annual growth in non-food prices lifted from 2.0 per cent to 2.3 per cent. But food prices fell 0.2 per cent on the year. 

In August, non-food prices rose by 0.2 per cent while food prices rose by 0.5 per cent.

Chinese producer price inflation rose to a 4-month high of 6.3 per cent in the year to August (forecast 5.6 per cent), up from 5.5 per cent in July. Most sectors reported higher annual growth of prices, especially extraction (up 18.2 per cent) and raw materials (up 11.0 per cent).

What is the importance of the economic data?

Weekly figures on petrol prices are compiled by ORIMA Research on behalf of the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP). National average retail prices are calculated as the weighted average of each State/Territory's metropolitan and non-metropolitan retail petrol prices, with the weights based on the number of registered petrol vehicles in each of these regions. AIP data for retail petrol prices is based on available market data supplied by MotorMouth.

  Lending Finance is released monthly by the Bureau of Statistics and contains figures on new housing, personal, commercial and lease finance commitments. The importance of the data lies in what it reveals about the appropriateness of interest rate settings, confidence and spending levels in the economy.

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Loans to buy cars and land soar: Craig James

 China’s National Bureau of Statistics releases its monthly economic statistics around mid-month. Quarterly GDP data is released around the 19th of January, April, July and October. China’s Customs Office releases trade data, and the People’s Bank of China releases financial statistics, around the 10th of each month. China is Australia’s largest trading partner and changes in the Chinese economic have major implications for the Aussie economy.

What are the implications for interest rates and investors?

There is nothing in the latest data to suggest that interest rates will need to change any time soon. CommSec expects rates to remain on hold over 2017. 

Both used and new cars are keenly sought by private, business and government buyers. In terms of private buyers, loans to buy used cars were at 12-year highs over the past year.

 Petrol prices are set to creep higher – a negative development for retailers.

  China’s economy is in solid shape, causing inflation to creep higher. The strength of China’s economy is positive for Aussie exporters. 

Craig James is the chief economist at CommSec.
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