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New Zealand March Trade Surplus NZ$922 Million

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New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$922 million in March, Statistics New Zealand said on Friday - beating forecasts for NZ$131 million and up sharply from NZ$12 million in February.

Exports were up 19.0 percent on month to a record NZ$5.70 billion, exceeding expectations for NZ$5.30 billion and up significantly from NZ$4.82 billion in the previous month.

Among the gainers, Milk powder rose NZ$226 million (41 percent) in value, and 32 percent in quantity. The average unit value rose 6.5 percent.

Cheese rose NZ$42 million (28 percent) in value, and 28 percent in quantity. The average unit value was little changed.

Butter fell NZ$42 million (19 percent) in value, and 7.7 percent in quantity. The average unit value fell 13 percent.

Imports sank 3.5 percent on month to NZ$4.77 billion versus expectations for NZ$5.15 billion and down from NZ$4.80 billion a month earlier.

The leading falls were: petroleum and products, down NZ$130 million (20 percent) to NZ$516 million; vehicles, parts, and accessories, down NZ$86 million (11 percent) to NZ$717 million; and aircraft and parts, down NZ$71 million (54 percent).

For the first quarter of 2019, exports rose 2.0 percent (NZ$291 million) to NZ$14.9 billion, while imports fell 2.5 percent (NZ$407 million) to NZ$15.9 billion. The quarterly trade balance was a deficit of NZ$1.0 billion.

Also on Friday, the latest survey from ANZ Bank revealed that consumer confidence in New Zealand improved in April, rising 1.1 percent on month to a reading of 123.2. That follows the 0.8 percent gain in March to 121.8.

Consumers' perceptions of their current financial situation rose 2 points to a net 14 percent feeling financially better off than a year ago.

A net 30 percent of consumers expect to be better off financially this time next year, up 1 point. A net 46 percent think it's a good time to buy a major household item, up 8 points.

Perceptions regarding the next year's economic outlook fell 1 point to a net 9 percent expecting conditions to improve. The five-year outlook fell 3 points to +18 percent.

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