Australian building approvals rose for a third month in April, casting some doubt on the widely-held view that residential construction will slow in the year ahead.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approvals rose 3% to 20,243 after seasonal adjustments, easily exceeding expectations for a drop of 3%.


The figure was 0.7% higher than levels of a year earlier, and was the highest monthly total since October 2015.


The strength was driven by approvals for apartments, which rose 8.1% to 10,548, offsetting a decline in private sector housing approvals which fell 1.9% to 9,695.


As a consequence, the number of dwellings approved over the past 12 months rose to 234,475, the first increase recorded since October last year.