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Morning Briefing Oct 27: How to take the heat out of NZ's house prices?

With New Zealand’s housing market still running red hot through the Covid-19 pandemic, calls are growing for the Reserve Bank and Government to do more to help buyers.

Source: istock.com

Just a few months ago, economists were predicting doom and gloom with forecasts of double digit drops in house prices. They’re now predicting double digit increases, which is putting the dream of owning a home even further out of reach for many. 

Low interest rates, the Reserve Bank’s potential funding-for-lending programme and the removal of loan-to-value restrictions (LVR) in April are believed to be driving demand in the market.

Several ideas are being touted to help people onto the property ladder, including reforming planning laws, re-introducing LVR limits (something Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr has already discussed) and new taxes.

But Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen says he’s not expecting house prices to drop next year. 

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Kiwi case investigated

While New Zealand recorded no new cases of Covid-19 in the community yesterday, health officials are conducting investigations after a child tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Japan.

The child had previously tested negative in New Zealand, but anyone who was on their domestic flight from Napier to Auckland on October 22 is advised to watch for symptoms.

A Napier childcare centre has also been alerted to the situation but is considered “very low risk”. 

Meanwhile, overseas authorities are warning of a tough fight ahead as Covid-19 infections soar across Europe.

Spain has declared a national state of emergency, while France and Italy have both enforced strict new measures

There’s been better news across the Tasman, however, with Victoria’s Covid-19 restrictions finally lifted after 12 long weeks of lockdown.

The state recorded no new cases of the virus for the first time in more than four months yesterday. 

More ripple effects revealed

Labour Weekend has highlighted a change in Kiwis’ habits through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Travel restrictions, for example, are believed to be behind a huge boom in recreational boating, with many families taking to the water over the holiday weekend.

Boat sales have gone through the roof, with one seller telling 1 NEWS they’re now facing stock shortages. 

Labour Weekend also demonstrated the growing popularity of tramping as a holiday activity.

The Department of Conservation has had to expand its hut and campsite bookings system for summer to meet demand, while camping stores are seeing a big boost in sales.

However, Kiwis keen to take up hiking are being warned to prepare and be realistic about their skill levels.  

Voting numbers surge in US

US President Donald Trump has made several campaign stops in the battleground state of Pennsylvania as he makes a final push for re-election next week.

Trump told reporters his opponent, Joe Biden, was “a pathetic candidate”, before he again told a rally of supporters the US was “absolutely rounding the corner” in the fight against Covid-19, despite a continued rise in case numbers. 

More than 60 million Americans have voted ahead of election day, with 33 states already passing their 2016 early voting numbers with eight days to go.

And as they vote, Time reports police forces are having to take unprecedented steps to brace for any disruptions at the polls or following election day.

Te Kahika leaves Advance NZ 

The New Zealand Public Party (NZPP) and Advance NZ have disbanded their election alliance after gaining just 0.9 per cent of the vote at the election.

NZPP, led by Billy Te Kahika, joined with Advance NZ, led by Jami-Lee Ross, in the lead-up to the election on a platform largely based on the promotion of conspiracy theories.

Despite the split, Te Kahika said Ross's Advance NZ would continue to have his support.

Meanwhile, Labour and the Greens are expected to meet again today to discuss any areas of co-operation in the next government. Jacinda Ardern says she expects those talks to wrap up this week.  

Other news of note this morning:

- The NZ Herald reports police are responding to an incident in the Far North, after shots were allegedly fired.

- This year's Labour Weekend road toll has been one of the worst New Zealand has seen in almost a decade.

- Kiwis are being called on to donate plasma after a huge spike in demand for the product. 

- Australia has condemned Qatar authorities’ treatment of women passengers on a flight to Sydney who were subjected to internal examinations after a newborn baby was found abandoned at a Doha airport.

- Eating disorder specialists say they’ve been dealing with a “tsunami” of patient referrals since lockdown.

- And bad news for those in the US (as if they needed more in 2020) – the murder hornets are back.

And finally...

Source: istock.com

After dropping hints about an “exciting new discovery” last week, NASA has revealed they’ve officially found water on the moon.

The water is thought to take the form of ice reservoirs and could help astronauts live and work on our natural satellite.

The discovery could also have major impacts for future space travel, with the water offering the potential to make rocket fuel in space.