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Petrol prices on the rise

Petrol prices increased 5.0 per cent in the year ended March 2018, Stats NZ said today. In the March 2018 quarter prices rose 2.7 percent.

Rising crude oil prices, and a falling exchange rate, contributed to pushing petrol prices up in the second half of 2017.

“The average price for a litre of 91 octane reached $2.00 in March 2018,” prices senior manager Paul Pascoe said. “This is the highest level since the December 2014 quarter.”

Average petrol prices in the CPI take into account loyalty card and supermarket discounts, and therefore differ from those seen at the petrol station.

For several quarters, petrol prices have moved in different ways in different parts of the country, rather than rising or falling consistently at a national level.

Since 2013, Wellington and the South Island have typically had larger increases and smaller decreases than the rest of the country.

The regional pattern changed in the year ended March 2018. Auckland prices either fell less or increased more than Wellington and Canterbury in three of the past four quarters.

In the March 2018 quarter, Auckland petrol prices rose 3.9 per cent, while Wellington and Canterbury rose 0.8 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.

In the year ended March 2018, Auckland petrol prices increased 6.5 per cent, Wellington increased 1.7 per cent, and Canterbury 1.3 per cent.

From March 2013 to March 2018, Auckland prices decreased 5.0 per cent, Wellington prices decreased 3.8 per cent, and Canterbury prices decreased 3.1 per cent.

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Imports rise despite fall in cars

Imports rose in February 2018 to a new high for a February month, Stats NZ said today. This rise was driven by machinery imports, despite a fall in the value of car imports.

Value of car imports fall

Imports of passenger motor cars fell $126 million (33 per cent) from February 2017 to $257 million – the lowest monthly value since March 2013.

Vehicles parts and accessories also fell $109 million (18 percent) to $501 million, led by the fall in motor vehicles.

“The delay in final unloading of four vehicle carriers at New Zealand ports had an impact on the total value of vehicle imports in February,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said.

“The discovery of stink bugs on these vessels meant that around 8,000 cars could not enter New Zealand as scheduled.

“The goods on these vehicle carriers would normally have been included in February’s import statistics, but will now be included in the statistics of the month when the respective shipments are unloaded.”

Mechanical machinery and equipment leads import rise

Despite the fall in vehicle imports, total imports were up $187 million (4.6 per cent) from February 2017 to reach $4.2 billion, a new high for a February month, although the rise in percentage terms was lower than in recent months.

The rise in total imports was led by mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment (such as harvesting machinery and mobile phones), and palm kernel.

Mechanical machinery and equipment rose $57 million (10 per cent) across a range of commodities, including harvesting machinery (up $14 million).

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GDP rises due to strength in services

The economy, as measured by GDP, grew 0.6 per cent in the December 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. Growth was driven by increases in the service industries but was tempered by falls in the primary sector.  

“Growth was widespread across many service industries, with business services, and rental hiring and real estate services providing momentum,” national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said. “Retail trade and wholesale trade were also key contributors to growth this quarter.”

Service industries drive growth

Activity in the service industries rose 1.1 per cent, with 10 of the 11 service industries in the December 2017 quarter. Overall growth in the service industries was led by a 2.3 per cent increase in business services. 

Other service industries making a significant contribution included wholesale, retail, real estate, and transport.

Primary industries weaken, down 2.4 per cent

Following a wet spring, New Zealand’s hottest summer on record appears to have negatively affected the primary sector. Agricultural production fell 2.7 per cent this quarter and dairy exports fell 4.4 per cent.

Capital goods lift investment

Investment in fixed assets was up 2.1 percent in the December 2017 quarter, following a revised 1.8 percent increase in the September 2017 quarter.

Higher investment in transport equipment (up 17 per cent) and plant, machinery, and equipment (up 5.9 per cent) were the two main drivers of investment growth this quarter. This saw higher imports of capital goods.

Imports of passenger motor cars also contributed to the increase in imported goods. In the December quarter, imports of passenger motor cars increased by 1.8 per cent, following a 2.9 per cent decrease in the September 2017 quarter.

GDP per capita rises 0.1 per cent

When comparing GDP growth to population change, GDP per capita was up 0.1 percent in the December 2017 quarter. This follows a 0.2 percent increase in the September 2017 quarter.

Real purchasing power up 1.4 per cent

New Zealand’s ability to buy goods and services from its income rose over the December 2017 quarter by 1.4 per cent. 

Over the December 2017 year, real purchasing power per capita increased 1.3 percent. This shows that New Zealand’s real purchasing power increased more than New Zealand’s population over this period.


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Total electronic card spending flat

Total card spending across all industries was relatively flat (up 0.1 per cent) in February 2018, when adjusted for seasonal effects, Stats NZ said on Friday.

Retail card spending dipped 0.3 percent in February, after five consecutive monthly increases. 

“February’s decline was led by a 0.5 percent fall in spending on consumables, which includes grocery and liquor retailing,” retail manager Sue Chapman said. 

“This is the first decrease in the consumables group since May 2017 and could be the effect of people hunkering down during the two ex-tropical cyclones that hit this month.” 

The motor vehicle industry was the only industry with relatively good growth, with a 2.3 per cent or $3.9 million increase compared with January 2018.

Spending was quiet across the rest of the give retail industries. There was little or no change in durables (includes hardware, furniture, and appliances), hospitality (accommodation, bars, cafes, restaurants, and takeaways), apparel (clothing and footwear), and fuel. 

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Largest January goods deficit since 2007

In January 2018, New Zealand recorded its largest deficit for a January month since 2007, Stats NZ said yesterday. This deficit contrasts with last month’s surplus, which was the largest ever for a December month.

The January 2018 trade balance was a deficit of $566 million. This was larger than January 2017 deficit as imports rose more than exports.

“Both imports and exports reached new highs for January months,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “Import growth remains strong while export growth didn’t carry on at the same rate as the record-setting December 2017 month.”

Imports rose $713 million (17 percent) from January 2017, with increases across a range of commodities including turbo-jets, diesel, and ships.

Vehicles, parts, and accessories rose $42 million (6.8 per cent) to $659 million, with passenger motor cars contributing $3.8 million (1.0 per cent) to the increase.

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Fuel pushes up producer prices

Higher fuel prices contributed to the rise in producer output and input prices in the December 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Overall, producer output prices (the prices producers get for their goods and services) rose 1.0 percent in the December 2017 quarter. Input prices (the costs producers pay) rose 0.9 percent.

Output prices for the mining industry increased 9.3 per cent, influenced by higher crude oil prices received by gas and oil extraction producers.

Input prices paid by petroleum and coal product manufacturers rose 12 percent in the December 2017 quarter, influenced by higher imported crude oil prices.

“Higher crude oil prices led to increased costs for many industries, including petroleum, forestry and logging, transport, construction, and farming,” business prices manager Sarah Williams said.

Motor vehicle, parts and fuel retailing

In the December 2017 quarter the motor vehicle, parts and fuel retailing industry contributed for the increase in retail trade output prices (up 0.3 per cent). 

Input prices paid by motor vehicle, parts and fuel retailing rose 1.0 per cent in the December quarter, the highest increase in the retail trade industry.

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Highest ever January for new vehicle registrations

Continuing the trend for the last five years, last month’s new vehicle registrations of 14,834 was a record month for January. Registrations were up 7.3 per cent or 1011 units on January 2017.

New passenger vehicle registrations of 10,797 units were up 6.4 per cent (647 units) on January 2017. Commercial vehicle registrations of 4,037 units were up 9.9 per cent (364 units) on January 2017.

Toyota remains the overall market leader with 22 per cent market share (3,270 units), followed by Ford with 11 per cent (1,654 units) and Mazda with eight per cent market share (1,197 units).

Toyota was also the market leader for passenger and SUV registrations with nearly a quarter of the market at 23 per cent market share (2,490 units) followed by Mazda with nine per cent (1,025 units) and Ford with eight per cent market share (846 units).

In the commercial sector, Ford was again the market leader with 20 per cent (808 units) followed by Toyota with 19 per cent (780 units) and Holden with 10 per cent market share (385 units).

The Toyota Corolla begins 2018 back at the top of the bestselling vehicle model table with 958 units. The Ford Ranger was the second bestselling model for the month of January with 713 units followed by the Toyota Hilux with 636 units. The Toyota Corolla was the top selling rental model for January with 696 units.

The SUV medium segment accounted for 16 per cent of the market, followed by the small passenger segment with 14 per cent and the SUV compact with 13 per cent market share.

“The strength of growth in the new vehicle market ran somewhat against expectations, making it once again the strongest ever start to a new sales year,” says David Crawford, chief executive officer of the Motor Industry Association.

“As 2018 gets underway, nothing has changed with the economic environment that existed for most of the last 24 months. The key drivers of new vehicle sales remain the continued elevated levels of net immigration, low costs of debt, a strong national economy and a stable government,” he says.

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Vehicles help rise in annual imports

Both exports and imports reached new highs in 2017, as New Zealand bought more cars and earned more from agricultural products, Stats NZ said today.

“The previous high for the value of goods exports in a calendar year was 2014,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous high for imports was 2015.”

Annual exports were valued at $53.7 billion for the year ended December 2017, up $5.2 billion (11 percent) from 2016. Dairy and meat products led the rise, up $2.8 billion to $14.0 billion and up $706 million to $6.6 billion, respectively. 

Imports for the December 2017 year were up $4.9 billion, to $56.5 billion. 

Vehicles parts and accessories help with rise in annual imports

Vehicles, parts, and accessories increased by $1.2 billion to $8.9 billion, an increase of 16 per cent compared to 2016. 

Within this, motor cars rose $640 million, up 13 per cent compared to 2016, and truck and vans rose $347 million, up 23 per cent.

Mechanical machinery and equipment (such as aircraft parts and computers) rose $1.3 billion to $8.2 billion, which lead the overall rise in imports.
China was our top trading partner

Exports to China were valued at $12.0 billion, 22 per cent of New Zealand’s total exports, while imports from China were valued at $10.9 billion, 19 per cent of New Zealand’s total imports.

“China overtook Australia as our top export market in 2013 and has remained at the top every calendar year since,” Mr Islam said. “The gap between the top two markets is now wider than it’s been at any time since then.”

New Zealand’s total two-way goods trade

New Zealand’s total two-way goods trade (exports plus imports) for the year ended December 2017 was worth $110 billion, up $10 billion from 2016. Annual two-way goods trade has remained above $100 billion for the last four years.

For the year ended December 2017, there was an annual trade deficit of $2.8 billion,5.3 per cent of exports. This was smaller than the $3.1 billion deficit, 6.5 per cent of exports for the December 2016 year.

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Value of car imports reaches new high

The value of car imports have reached a new high of $513 million, according to statistics released today by Stats NZ. 

There were 26,700 passenger motor cars imported in November, at a higher average value than earlier in the year. Of those, 140 were new electric cars and around 170 were used electric cars.

Overall, imports in November 2017 were valued at $5.8 billion, said Stats NZ. The value exceeded last month’s record of $5.4 billion.

Imports rose $1.2 billion (27 per cent) from November 2016. This was the largest rise in imports since a 62 per cent rise in December 1999. The November 2017 rise was across a range of commodities. The largest increases included imports of aircraft, aircraft parts, motor vehicles, computers, and diggers.

“The $1.2 billion rise in total November 2017 imports was equivalent to 83,000 used electric cars,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “Alternatively, for that value we could have imported around 700,000 top-of-the-line mobile phones.”

Vehicles, parts and accessories, the largest import commodity group, rose $127 million (18 per cent) to $836 million, compared with November last year. Out of this, passenger motor cars rose $48 million and goods vehicles rose $54 million.

November’s movements for New Zealand’s top import partners were:

  • Japan – up $88 million (27 per cent). This was led by vehicles parts and accessories, which was up $52 million (27 per cent).
  • China – up $150 million, led by mechanical machinery and equipment, up $51 million.
  • European Union – up $247 million (32 per cent), led by increases in mechanical machinery and equipment, up $119 million, and vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $39 million.


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Vehicles and parts sales down

According to the latest figures from Stats NZ, wholesale sales values for motor vehicles and parts, including cars are trucks, fell 3.6 per cent ($98 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 4.0 per cent rise ($104 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter. 

Wholesale trade statistics measure the sale or resale of new or used goods to retailers, including businesses or institutional users (including government).

“Although the sales fell in motor vehicle and parts wholesaling, stocks continued to build up in the September quarter,” Ms Chapman said.

Actual wholesale vehicle and parts stocks were up 26 per cent.  

The retail trade survey for the September 2017 quarter showed that motor vehicles and parts sales also dipped slightly from previous quarters.

Even though wholesale values for vehicles and parts were down, the overall wholesale trade values in the September 2017 quarter rose 1.1 percent ($288 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 1.6 percent ($389 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter.

The September increase was the sixth consecutive quarterly increase, with four of the six wholesaling industries rising in the September quarter.

Out of these four the largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, up 2.8 percent ($218 million) from the June 2017 quarter. 

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Terms of Trade record growth

New Zealand’s terms of trade rose 0.7 per cent in the September quarter to reach an all-time new record, Stats NZ said today.

Terms of trade is a measure of purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. It provides a more detailed reading of the flow of goods and services across the border.

The rise of 0.7 per cent this quarter was due to import prices falling more than export prices. 

Diagram for the September 2017 quarter.

Import movements in the motor vehicle industry contributed to the fall in import prices, with a 3.2 per cent decrease compared to the previous quarter ending in June 2017.

The drop in petroleum and petroleum product prices, which aren’t seasonally adjusted, had a significant effect on the overall decrease in imports. Prices fell 11.9 percent, with volumes down 5.6 percent and values down 17 percent.

The main reason, however, is due the increased price of meat and dairy exports.

“The terms of trade increased over the last year, driven by high meat and dairy prices, especially butter, to reach the highest level since the series began in March 1957,” international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said.

“The previous high for the terms of trade was the June 1973 quarter.”

The services terms of trade rose 3.6 per cent in the September 2017 quarter. Services export prices rose 0.9 per cent, led by 3.2 per cent gain for transportation, while import prices for services imports fell by 2.6 per cent.

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