Australia: Bearish apart from mining

Household disposable income lifted in response to the recent tax cuts but households remain risk-averse, with consumption still falling and extra income going straight to debt repayment — reflected by a jump in the Saving ratio below.
Australia Household Saving

Housing prices are recovering despite high levels of mortgage stress in the outer suburbs but building approvals for new housing continue to fall. Construction expenditure is likely to follow.

Australia Building Approvals

GDP growth is falling, while corporate profits (% of GDP) remain in the doldrums apart from the mining sector.

Australia Corporate Profits

Low household disposable income and corporate profit growth in turn lead to low business investment (% of GDP).

Australia Business Investment

Low investment leads to low job creation. Job vacancies and job ads both warn of declining employment growth.

Australia Job Ads

Cyclical employment growth is expected to slow in line with the fall in the Leading Indicator over the past year.

Australia Leading Employment Indicator

We maintain a bearish outlook for the Australian economy, though Mining continues to surprise to the upside.

ASX 200 diverges from fundamentals

Seasonally adjusted labour force estimates show a decline in October 2019:

  • Employment decreased by 19,000 to 12,919,200 people
    (full-time -10,300 and part-time -8,700).
  • Unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts to 5.3%.
  • Monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 2.8 million hours to 1,783.9 million hours.

The leading indicator of employment has been predicting a down-turn in employment for some time, recording its sixteenth consecutive monthly fall in November.

Australia: Leading Employment Indicator

Job advertisements have also declined since late 2018.

Australia: Job Ads & Vacancies

Falling employment has a knock-on effect in other areas of the economy:

According to Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, new vehicles have now seen the nineteenth consecutive month of decreasing sales in the Australian market, with October 2019 sales down 9.1% compared to October 2018.

“Year to date sales of new motor vehicles in 2019 are almost 78,000 units (eight per cent) lower than the same period in 2018…”

Retail sales are also soft:

In volume terms, the seasonally adjusted estimate for the September quarter 2019 fell 0.1%. This follows a 0.1% rise in the June quarter 2019, and a 0.1% fall in the March quarter 2019.

But the ASX 200, seemingly unperturbed, is testing resistance at 6800. Breakout would signal a primary advance with a target of 7200. Breach of support at 6400 seems unlikely but would warn of a decline with a target of 5400.

ASX 200

There are, however, signs of weakness in the largest two sectors.

ASX 300 Banks index penetrated its rising trendline, warning of a correction. Declining peaks on the Trend Index indicate secondary selling pressure. Follow-through of the index below 7600 would strengthen the bear signal.

ASX 300 Banks

A hanging man candlestick warns the ASX 300 Metals & Mining index is likely to again test support at 4100 ( the neckline of a large head-and-shoulders reversal pattern ). A Trend Index peak near zero would indicate continued selling pressure.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Iron ore continues its primary decline, since breaking support at 90. Our long-term target is 65.

Iron Ore

We maintain low exposure to Australian equities, with a focus on defensive and contra-cyclical stocks, because of our bearish outlook. But ASX 200 breakout above 6800 would force us to re-examine our outlook.

Australia: Falling job ads

ANZ job ads fell 4.6 percent in October after a 3.9 percent fall in September. The index is down 15 percent over the last year.

From ANZ:

“The ANZ job advertisement series measures the number of jobs advertised in the major daily newspapers and Internet sites covering the capital cities each month. It has historically proved to be a very good indicator of future labour market conditions and thus, is extensively relied upon for forecasting employment growth.”