Trump’s US-China Trade War Boosts Risks for Australian Housing Market

The Donald and Doncaster may not often feature in the same sentence, but Donald Trump’s incipient trade war with China is a growing risk to housing in the eastern Melbourne suburb, according to Fitch Ratings.

And it’s not just Doncaster, either. Concerns about a housing downturn that have become the biggest worry for fixed-income investors in Australia in the ratings agency’s latest six-monthly survey indicate that a hard landing in China’s economy triggered by a trade war, or further local credit curbs could hit dwelling values across the country.

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“Investors have become more concerned about the impact of trade wars on China,” said Fitch Australia managing director John Miles. “If we were to see a hard landing in China that could impact on Australia and lead to downward pressure on house prices.”

The downturn that pushed dwelling prices in Australia’s east coast-dominated market down 2.7 per cent over the year to September was result of locally driven credit curbs targeting investors in particular and triggered a jump in concerns about the housing market in the October 2018 Fitch  KangaNews  Australian Fixed-Income Investor Survey.

The survey does not forecast a housing crash. The vast majority of respondents (97 per cent) expect unemployment – one possible trigger of weakness – to remain below 6.5 per cent through to mid-2020.

But housing market concerns are now regarded as a high risk to Australian credit markets by 50 per cent of respondents – making it the greatest concern – up from 29 per cent just six months earlier.

Second was the withdrawal of cheap credit globally (39 per cent) as central banks wound back their quantitative easing programs.

A hard landing in the Chinese economy was the third-highest risk (at 28 per cent, little change from six months earlier), followed by “adverse developments in one or more emerging markets” (22 per cent) and then “US presidential impact”. As many as 14 per cent of respondents listed the latter point as a high risk.

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With so many ostensibly separate issues – the mercurial US head of state, trade policies and emerging markets – connected, Australia, and its dependence on the Chinese economy could well mean global jitters shake domestic bricks and mortar. Fitch had not formed a view, however, on the routes by which a China hard landing would feed through, Mr Miles said.

“Whether it’s a trade impact or whether it’s poor economic management in China that leads to a downturn … that can have an impact on Australia given its trade ties,” he said.

Source:  Just News Viral

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