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New Zealand December Trade Surplus NZ$264 Million

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New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$264 million in December, Statistics New Zealand said on Tuesday - representing 4.8 percent of exports.

That exceeded expectations for a surplus of NZ$150 million following the NZ$861 million deficit in November.

Exports were down 0.5 percent on year to NZ$5.48 billion - shy of forecasts for NZ$5.50 billion but up from NZ$4.94 billion in the previous month.

The leading contributor was exports of meat and edible offal, down NZ$70 million (9.7 percent). Beef fell NZ$42 million (13 percent) in value and 9.4 percent in quantity; Sheep meat fell NZ$22 million (6.2 percent) in value and 8.5 percent in quantity.

Aluminum and aluminum articles was also down NZ$70 million (41 percent). This movement was partly due to unusually high values and quantities of aluminum exports in December 2017. In December 2018, the value (NZ$101 million) was close to the average monthly value over the last 24 months (NZ$99 million).

Milk powder, butter, and cheese fell NZ$17 million (0.9 percent) to NZ$1.9 billion.

Imports climbed an annual 6.6 percent to NZ$5.22 billion versus expectations for NZ$5.30 billion and down from NZ$5.80 billion a month earlier.

Petroleum and products were up NZ$251 million (58 percent) to NZ$684 million. Crude oil rose NZ$201 million (80 percent), while petroleum other than crude (such as petrol and diesel) rose NZ$29 million (17 percent).

Aircraft and parts were up NZ$151 million (509 percent) to NZ$180 million; imports of aircraft and parts are irregular and can mean large rises or falls in monthly figures.

These rises were partly offset by falls across a range of commodities, led by: food industry residues, wastes, and fodder (soya bean oil cake and palm oil cake), down NZ$47 million (47 percent); and fertilizers, down NZ$38 million (52 percent).

For the fourth quarter of 2018, exports fell 0.5 percent to NZ$14.9 billion following a 5.4 percent rise in the previous quarter.

Imports rose 1.4 percent to NZ$16.4 billion following a 3.7 percent rise in the third quarter.

The quarterly trade balance was a deficit of NZ$1.5 billion (10 percent of exports), marking the 19th consecutive quarterly deficit since the last surplus (March 2014).

For all of 2018, New Zealand's two-way goods trade was NZ$121 billion, up NZ$10.7 billion (9.8 percent) from 2017. The annual trade deficit was NZ$5.9 billion (10 percent of exports).

The value of goods exported was NZ$57.5 billion, up NZ$3.9 billion (7.2 percent). The value of goods imported for the December 2018 year was NZ$63.4 billion, up NZ$6.9 billion (12 percent).

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