Building approvals rose 3.1% in February, exceeding the expected 2.5% rise, but the longer-term trend is for a steady decline in approvals, say Bloomberg analysts.


Over the 12 months to February, approvals have fallen 9%, slightly better than economist expectations of a 9.1% drop.


Many economists believe building approvals peaked in the middle of 2015 and have been sliding since.


Approvals for freestanding houses fell 1.2% in the month, taking the annual decline to 5.1%. Approvals for apartments and townhouses lifted 7.6% in February, but over the 12 months to February apartment approvals have dropped 13%.


The largest contributors to the short-term February rise in dwelling approvals were Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.