Home loan approvals show housing recovery

Home loan approvals continue to rise, showing the record low cash rate is working its way into the housing sector.

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The number of home loan approvals in June rose 2.7 per cent to 51,001, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, beating economists’ expectations of a 2.0 per cent rise.

The figures come after data on Tuesday showed Australian capital city house prices were growing faster than expected, and the Reserve Bank’s decision to cut the cash rate to a new record low of 2.5 per cent.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the stronger than expected housing finance figures were a sign the property market was responding to low interest rates.

“This is actually the sixth consecutive monthly increase we’ve seen. We haven’t had a negative print yet for 2013,” Mr Kennedy said.

“We’re starting to get to pretty good numbers with commitments up 13 per cent on year-ago terms.

“It’s obviously a positive sign that does suggest there is a little bit of activity perhaps picking up in the residential housing market.

“Although activity across the economy is pretty soft, it does look like housing is perhaps one sector that is responding to the low interest rate environment.”

But CommSec chief economist Craig James said the value of new loans was still more than 4.0 per cent lower than it was five years ago.

“Apparently Australian borrowers haven’t had it this good for over 50 years but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the home loan data,” Mr James said.

“Borrowers remain cautious – especially first home buyers.”

Mr James said loans to build new homes had risen for seven consecutive months, boosted by state government incentives as well as low interest rates.

He said the data showed buyers were armed with cash but needed the confidence to act.

“Once the election is out of the road, we would expect more people to seriously contemplate buying homes to either live in or as a form of investment,” Mr James said.

“More home loans being taken out will equate to more homes being bought and more homes being built.

“Housing is well placed to provide a boost to the economy and take over growth leadership from mining.”

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Freo gifted best AFL draw ever: Sheedy

AFL great Kevin Sheedy reckons Fremantle have won football’s equivalent of the lotto due to their friendly draw, but Dockers coach Ross Lyon says those claims are garbage.

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Fremantle boosted their chances of a top-two finish with a club record 113-point thumping of Sheedy’s GWS at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.

The 24.13 (157) to 6.8 (44) win lifted Fremantle to within 6.2 per cent of third-placed Sydney, and they are just half a win adrift of second-placed Geelong.

Fremantle take on Melbourne (MCG), Port Adelaide (home) and St Kilda (ES) in a dream run to the finals.

Of the opponents Fremantle were drawn to play twice this year, only Richmond currently sit in the top-eight.

The other teams they were drawn to play twice – West Coast, Adelaide, St Kilda and Melbourne – are either near the bottom of the table, or highly unlikely to play finals.

Sheedy said the Dockers should thank their lucky stars for such a soft draw.

“It’s not their fault, but they have probably got the best draw of all time this year,” Sheedy said.

“They have won TattsLotto.

“They haven’t played the top-four more than once.

“That’s going to make people more confident in how they play, because it gives you more practice time and game time to get their style of play together.”

Lyon was quick to hit back at Sheedy’s claims, pointing to the fact that West Coast were considered a flag fancy this year, while Adelaide came within a kick of reaching the 2012 grand final after finishing the season in second spot.

“Commentary on draws is really interesting, because like most analysts or flippant opposition coaches, it runs as deep as about the last two weeks,” Lyon said.

“I’m happy to listen when people do a real detailed analysis of the draw.

“The flippancies – they’re just red herrings thrown out.

“It’s all garbage to be honest.”

Fremantle booted the opening seven goals of the match against GWS, but saw their margin whittled down to 17 points on the back of a Jeremy Cameron-inspired second-quarter fightback.

However, the Giants’ resistance was short lived, with Fremantle booting 16 goals to one in the second half to secure their biggest ever win, eclipsing the 112-point winning margin over Collingwood in 2005.

“I think we were playing a pretty desperate side. Fremantle are playing like junk yard dogs – pretty hungry,” Sheedy said.

“And I suppose they would be, because they haven’t had a lot of success over their life.”

Lyon conceded it wasn’t ideal playing struggling teams in the run to the finals.

But he said his team would have no problems in getting themselves battle-hardened ahead of the finals.

Cameron’s four-goal haul lifted him to within two goals of West Coast’s Josh Kennedy in the race for the Coleman medal.

Fremantle lost Stephen Hill to a tight hamstring before the match, but Lyon said the star midfielder should be fit to take on Melbourne next week, along with Garrick Ibbotson (Achilles tendon).

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Election 2013: the rise of the attack ad

And as the polling date draws closer, they’ve seen the rise the of so-called ‘attack ads’, in which the policies or record of one party or the other is portrayed negatively.

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But is negative campaigning really effective?

 

Selling your political party to millions of voters is no easy job, and there’s no perfect formula for getting it right.

Both parties started this election campaign with positive advertising.

 

Kevin Rudd led with a ‘good guys’ approach.

 

“Our nation faces many new challenges and I know for sure that the old politics of negativity just won’t work …”

Tony Abbott and the Coalition tried an appeal to common sense.

 

“Australia has always been the land of opportunity, a place where every day can be a great day …”

Then, Labor changed its tune, bringing out two new TV ads that went firmly on the attack.

“What are you hiding, Mr Abbott? I remember when you were really aggressive. Negative. Tony Abbott has admitted that his plans will hurt people. Like families.”

The new ads targeted Coalition plans to cut spending, but Opposition leader Tony Abbott says the $70-billion hole Labor keeps referring to is fiction.

“It is simply false, simply false. It is yet another desperate scare campaign from a Labor Party that has no record to run on, and nothing to say about our future.”

The ads mark a stark reversal to Kevin Rudd’s earlier pledge to run a positive campaign.

 

The Prime Minister has defended his message on Channel 7.

“What I said is that our ads would be policy-based. I stand by every one of those examples put in that spotlight advertisement. You know why? Because this affects real people’s lives. This is not about negativity. It’s about accountability.”

Ads that deliberately attack the opposition are nothing new in politics and party leaders are often the target.

“Who do you trust?… Who do you trust?… Who do you trust?… Interest rates have risen nine times in a row under John Howard….Remember Kevin O’Lemon? This time last year, he got the chop! Thanks to Julia.”

Some of the most memorable ads aren’t necessarily the negative ones, so how much influence do attack ads really have on voters?

Former advertising executive Jane Caro says parties wouldn’t keep using the attack strategy if it wasn’t effective, and there’s a clear reason they do it.

“It’s to make you worry about the opponent. Often governments use negative campaigns more, because what they’re really saying is I’m the devil you know, I’m safer than the devil you don’t know.”

 

 

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No reward for Zuckerberg Facebook hacker

A researcher who hacked into Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s profile to expose a security flaw won’t get the customary reward payment from the social network.

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While Facebook offers rewards for those who find security holes, it seems that Palestinian researcher Khalil Shreateh went too far by posting the information on Zuckerberg’s own profile page.

Shreateh said on his blog he found a way for Facebook users to circumvent security and modify a user’s timeline.

He said he took the unusual step of hacking into Zuckerberg’s profile after being ignored by the Facebook security team.

“So i did post to Mark Zuckerberg’s timeline , as those pictures shows,” he said, including screen shots of the posting.

“Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” he wrote. “First sorry for breaking your privacy and post to your wall, i had no other choice to make after all the reports i sent to Facebook team. My name is KHALIL from Palestine.”

His reward for exposing the flaw was having his Facebook account disabled.

He later got a message saying, “We are unfortunately not able to pay you for this vulnerability because your actions violated our Terms of Service. We do hope, however, that you continue to work with us to find vulnerabilities in the site.”

Facebook says it appreciates help with security but not by hacking into user accounts.

Facebook security engineer Matt Jones posted a comment on Sunday on a security forum saying “we fixed this bug on Thursday,” and admitted that “we should have asked for additional… instructions after his initial report.”

“We get hundreds of reports every day,” Jones said. “We have paid out over $US1 million to hundreds of reporters. However, many of the reports we get are nonsense or misguided.”

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Lima accused of targeting Manly’s Watmough

Manly coach Geoff Toovey believes South Sydney prop Jeff Lima might have targeted Anthony Watmough’s injured knee during his side’s 22-10 loss on Friday in Gosford.

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Lima was placed on report for twisting Watmough’s right leg early in the first half, an incident that left Toovey fuming and putting the NSW back-rower in doubt for next week’s clash with Canberra, despite coming through the whole 80 minutes.

Watmough was a late inclusion in the Manly side after recovering from a strained posterior cruciate ligament sustained last week against the Warriors.

In an absorbing and action-packed encounter at Bluetongue Stadium in front of a record 20,060 crowd, Souths ended a run of two successive defeats and ended Manly’s six-game winning streak thanks largely to some gritty defence from Michael Maguire’s side.

But Toovey could find himself slapped with a fine from the NRL after unloading on referees Shayne Hayne and Henry Perenara in an astonishing post-game rant.

“I just think today, the officials decided the outcome of the game – not the two teams on the field,” Toovey said.

“I’m not talking about other players but obviously everyone knew Anthony Watmough’s knee was injured coming into the game and now it looks like we may miss him because of that.

“I don’t know if he was targeted or not but it’s suspicious.”

Toovey was also angry at the decision not to award a try to Steve Matai after the New Zealand centre was adjudged to have been held up after his momentum took him over the line.

“Unless I’m blind, I saw the ball on the ground so what’s the decision?” he said.

“Can someone answer me that? He (video ref) said ‘held up’ but the ball’s on the ground. How can that be held up?

“There’s got to be an investigation into this; someone’s got to be accountable for this.

“Aren’t we meant to have the best referees for this game? Are they the best referees we’ve got?”

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