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New Zealand Trade Deficit NZ$914 Million In January

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New Zealand posted a merchandise trade deficit of NZ$914 million in January, Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday - marking the largest deficit on record for a January month.

That was shy of expectations for a shortfall of NZ$300 million following the NZ$264million surplus in December.

Exports added an annual 3.0 percent or NZ$128 million to NZ$4.40 billion, missing expectations for NZ$4.80 billion and down sharply from NZ$5.48 billion in the previous month.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the export rise, up NZ$167 million (12 percent) to NZ$1.5 billion. Milk powder increased in both value (up NZ$120 million to reach NZ$880 million) and quantity (15 percent).

Milk fats (including butter) were also up - NZ$55 million (18 percent), to NZ$359 million; quantity was up 41 percent. Untreated logs exports rose NZ$41 million (23 percent), to NZ$221 million; quantity was up 20 percent.

Meat and edible offal fell NZ$66 million (9.6 percent), to NZ$619 million. Lamb was down NZ$26 million (9.1 percent) to NZ$257 million; quantity was down 9.1 percent. Beef was down NZ$28 million (10 percent) to NZ$240 million; quantity was down 12 percent.

Imports were up 7.7 percent on year or NZ$379 million to NZ$5.32 billion versus forecasts for NZ$5.00 billion and up from NZ$5.22 billion a month earlier.

Petroleum and products rose NZ$81 million (13 percent) to NZ$725 million. Crude oil rose NZ$39 million (11 percent); quantity was down 4.8 percent. Diesel rose NZ$34 million (27 percent); quantity was up 5.4 percent.

Mechanical machinery and equipment was up NZ$78 million (11 percent) to NZ$765 million, with computer imports up from both Singapore (up NZ$25 million) and China (up NZ$22 million).

Other significant rises included: fertilizers rose NZ$68 million; and motor vehicles rose NZ$54 million.

The largest fall was in ships, boats, and floating structures - down NZ$62 million. Imports of ships are irregular and can mean large rises or falls in monthly values.

For the year ended January 2019, annual goods imports were NZ$63.8 billion, while annual goods exports were NZ$57.4 billion and the annual trade balance was a deficit of NZ$6.358 billion.

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