By James Glynn
SYDNEY--The number of Australian home-building permits rose in March, driven by demand for apartments and fueled by the first cut in interest rates in a year and a half.
Approvals to build or renovate houses and apartments rose by 2.8% from February, and by 23.6% from a year earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Monday.
In February, the central bank lowered the official cash rate to a record-low 2.25%, and signaled afterwards that at least one more cut this year may follow. Building approvals and housing construction are among the few bright spots in an economy that continues to grow at a lackluster pace.
Permits to build houses rose by 1.1% in March from February, while those for non-house dwellings, including apartments, climbed by 5.3%. That subgroup is up by almost 60% over the last year.
The central bank next meets on Tuesday, with market participants divided as to whether it will hold rates, or cut for the second time this year.
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