Building approvals rose by a surprise 0.9 per cent in October, boosted by a jump in construction activity in Victoria and Queensland.
The increase was far better than market expectations of a 1.0 per cent decline.
Approvals for private sector houses were up by 10,063, or 1.5 per cent in the month, and have now risen for five of the last six months.
Permits in the ‘other dwellings’ category, which includes apartment blocks and townhouses, continued to show volatility, falling one per cent in October, from a revised 0.1 per cent decline in the previous month.
The data comes amid signs of a gradual easing in Australia’s housing boom in recent months after regulators tightened investor lending rules in March.
Housing construction activity has continued to be supported by record low interest rates and strong population growth, but rising household debt has been a major concern for regulators.
NAB chief economist Ivan Colhoun said the data is not conforming with views of the housing bears, with monthly building approvals continuing to hold up better than expected.
“Often over-looked in this release, there is a relatively strong pick-up in non-residential construction emerging, with strengthening trends for office building, aged care, warehouses and accommodation,” he said.
October’s surprise gains were driven by sharp growth in Victoria and Queensland, more than offsetting the decline in other states, the data showed.
Monthly unit approvals surged 48 per cent in Victoria, driving a 24.3 per cent increase in seasonally adjusted total approvals for the state.
Queensland recorded a 6.1 per cent rise, but this comes after a very sharp decline in September, ANZ economists said.
In NSW, unit approvals fell 7.9 per cent, while house approvals fell 5.1 per cent.
Approvals also fell in Western Australia and South Australia.
Total building approvals are now up 18.4 per cent over the 12 months to October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.