A review of things you need to know before you go home on Friday; building consents still disappoint in Auckland, bank note demand grows fast with housing loans, consumer credit restrained, swaps and NZD unchanged

Here are the key things you need to know before you leave work today.

TODAY’S MORTGAGE RATE CHANGES
There are no changes to report today, but given the recent fall in wholesale rates, it is a live possibility someone will jump in with a fixed rate offer cut.

TODAY’S DEPOSIT RATE CHANGES
The Police Credit Union cut its bonus saver account interest rate by -10 bps; the new potential is now 3.20%.

BACK TO 2004 LEVELS
Building consent numbers are rising but for Auckland they still well short of what’s needed to ease that city’s housing shortage. Interestingly, Tauranga issued more consents in 2015 for new housing (technically ‘dwellings’) that in the whole of the Wellington urban area in the same year. Maybe John Key has a point. Overall, consent levels are back to the high levels we last saw in 2004.

SHADOW ECONOMY GROWING FAST?
The curiosity of a fast growing pool of ‘notes and coins’ continues. As at December 2015, this is at $5.1 bln, an amazing +8.8% above the equivalent 2014 levels. The fastest growing component is for $50 notes. Given the rise of debit and credit cards, it seems incongruous.

BIG DEBT
76.1% of all housing loans are now on fixed rate terms. That is its highest level since October 2009. In the intervening period, it got down to a low of 36.5% in April 2012. Today, there is 58.3% of all housing loans that have interest rate resets falling due within 12 months. That has turned up again but only back to levels we last saw in October 2014. We now owe $214.4 bln on our mortgages, $211.6 bln with banks.

BIG RESTRAINT
The slowest growing borrowing is in consumer debt, where borrowers owe “just” $15.6 bln. This December 2015 level is only +3.5% higher than the equivalent December 2014 level. Overall we are restraining ourselves in this area, maybe because we are so unrestrained in the housing area. (Or maybe we are all ‘paying cash’ in the shadow economy? see above.)

BIG PROJECTS
All of today’s focus has been on residential building consents, and the undershoot in Auckland. But there is an even bigger story in the non-housing consent numbers. Christchurch commercial building consents are high but now tailing off, and the same data for Auckland is going the other way and taking off. The Auckland commercial boom is just starting. Today’s data caps a series of all-time records, even if they are inflation-adjusted.

SMEs TO LOSE OUT
The sharing industry is gaining friends. Uber in New Zealand is working with ASB to give a 15% discount if you use an ASB Visa in your Uber account. This deal lasts until July. It almost certainly won’t be the last of its type. Sharing services powered with apps are growing fast, overwhelming traditional models of connecting with users. As banks befriend these trends, that will drive trouble for the old style. Not sure what taxi drivers who have ASB relationships will think. But I doubt ASB will care that much. It will make bucketloads off the Visa transactions and resulting debt. It emphasises that banks find their interests follow their individual clients paying retail, rather than the much smaller SME markets.

KIWIBANK ‘STABLE’
Fitch Ratings today affirmed Kiwibank’s credit rating as “AA”, but downgraded its outlook from ‘Positive’ to ‘Stable’.

A MATURE MARKET
The growth in KiwiSaver membership is now slowing fast, but part of that reason is that almost 2.6 million of us are now in a scheme in one way of another. Given the emploted labour force is about 2.4 mln, you have to say this is a pretty impressive uptake. (Of course, you don’t have to be employed, or even in the workforce, to sign up to KiwiSaver.)

DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
Petrol prices at the pump
, especially after discounts, are falling fast.

WHOLESALE RATES HOLD
There were virtually no changes today, just a couple of terms recorded a +1 bps rise. The 90 day bank bill rate also held, at 2.70%.

NZ DOLLAR HOLDS
There was no more slippage in the Kiwi dollar today, recalling it fell yesterday post the OCR review and then gained most of it back. It is now at 64.8 USc, at 91.4 AUc, and at 59.3 euro cents. The TWI-5 is still at 70.2. Check our real-time charts here.

You can now see an animation of this chart. Click on it, or click here.

Daily exchange rates

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