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Australian home loans slipped in February as lending to investors posted its biggest month-on-month fall since September 2015.

Home loans fell 0.5 per cent month on month in February, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, coming in below a median economist estimate compiled by Bloomberg predicting that the figure would come in flat. The headline number saw revised 0.4 per cent growth (previously 0.5 per cent) in January.

Lending to investors fell by 5.9 per cent month-on-month in February, down from a revised 4.2 per cent growth in January (previously 4.6 per cent).

Home loans to owner occupiers fell 0.5 per cent in February, a sharper fall than the previous month’s 0.2 per cent drop.

In a speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in Melbourne, Australian treasurer Scott Morrison acknowledged falling home ownership among people under the age of 44, that supply was failing to keep up with demand in Sydney and Melbourne, and that any policies to address housing affordability this must be managed carefully.

He said: “Our policy response must be careful and calibrated, lest we spark a negative housing shock that would undermine our economic confidence, negatively impact household consumption and retard economic growth. “

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