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Australian building approvals rose for a second consecutive month in February as debate about a national housing bubble continues to swell.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed building approvals jumped 8.3 per cent month on month in February, up from a 2.2 per cent rise in January (previously 1.8 per cent) and the largest increase since October 2015. Economists’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg predicted a 1 per cent fall.

Year-on-year, approvals fell 4.9 per cent, which was an improvement on the January figure of an 11.6 per cent fall (previously 12 per cent). Economists had expected a drop of 14.1 per cent.

Last week, regulators vowed to crack down on “interest only” mortgages in an attempt to tame speculative buying and rampant property prices. Data last week showed residential prices in Sydney and Melbourne rose by 19 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, over the past 12 months.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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