Australia's Big Four banks have signalled a stronger-than-expected recovery among business customers after last year's pandemic-fuelled recession and are also seeing robust activity in the housing market.
The chief executives of National Australia Bank and rival ANZ on Friday told a House of Representatives economics committee that business conditions and confidence remain well above average.
"We are facing the most positive economic conditions that we have seen in the six years this committee has been inquiring into the major banks," ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said in Canberra.
"While many are doing it tough, including CBD businesses, Australia is emerging from one of its hardest periods quicker and stronger than many expected."
Recent economic data has shown Australia's gross domestic product expanded by more than three per cent in two straight quarters and unemployment dropped sharply to 5.6 per cent by March.
Earlier on Friday, NAB CEO Ross McEwan said his bankers were approving more loans to businesses than before the pandemic.
"New and increased lending to small- and medium-sized businesses is up. NAB's agricultural equipment finance sales, for example, have grown 130 per cent in the last 12 months."
The two officials confirmed the housing market is showing robust activity, led by low interest rates, and high levels of savings but also urged governments to take action on supply issues in ward off more heat in prices.
Mr McEwan expects house prices to rise more than 10 per cent this year, while Mr Elliott said the range could be as much as 17 per cent.
ANZ loans to first home buyers in the past three months are up 75 per cent on the previous year, with first-time property buyers also accounting for 35 per cent of owner-occupier loans.
But most of the bank's 96,000 payment deferrals on home loans last year had resumed paying off their loan, Mr Elliott said.
NAB said more than 98 per cent of customers who had paused their mortgage or business loans last year were no longer on deferral.
The experience of the two banks is in line with their larger rivals Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, which on Thursday said most customers who had deferred loans during last year's recession had restarted repayments.
Like their counterparts the previous day, both NAB and ANZ CEOs declined to comment on the likelihood of acquiring the banking business of regional player Suncorp or the local consumer finance and credit card operations of Citigroup, which unveiled plans to exit some businesses in Asia and Europe overnight.
The rivals were, however, happy to comment on the need for regulation of the rapidly expanding buy now, pay later sector.
"There is more potential for misunderstanding in the way that their product is positioned," ANZ's Mr Elliott said.
"I believe the surveys of people who use those products does indicate that many of them are not aware of the how it works in terms of there being a cost, and it's sort of hidden."
On Thursday, Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn told the committee that buy now, pay later (BNPL) outfits needed to be reined in, and urged that retailers be allowed to pass on the higher cost of BNPL payments to customers.
Australian Associated Press