21 Dec 2009

More signs of economic recovery this week

8:30 am on 21 December 2009

Two final pieces of key economic data for 2009 are expected to show the recovery picking up speed, although some economists warn of hurdles still to overcome.

Statistics due for release on Wednesday are understood to show that gross domestic product (GDP) for the September quarter will have expanded by 0.4%. That's up from the 0.1% expansion in the June quarter, which technically ended the recession.

As for the balance of payments, the figures are expected to show the lowest deficit in six years.

ANZ economist Philip Borkin cautions, however, that the recovery will be patchy until consumers start spending again. And Berl's Ganesh Nana says reduced investment in plant and machinery will show up in slower growth and fewer jobs.

Westpac senior economist Doug Steel also says the September quarter is likely to be flat, because actual activity continues to lag behind record high levels of confidence about the future.

Current-account deficit drop expected

ASB economist Jane Turner expects the current-account deficit to narrow significantly. She is picking it to fall from 5.9% of GDP to 3.3%, as the balance of payments is hit by the one-off tax provisions set aside by three major banks.

The three banks, Westpac, the Bank of New Zealand, and ANZ National, have put aside a combined $2.2 billion - money the IRD claims they owe in back taxes and interest, though all are appealing against earlier Court of Appeal decisions that deemed their structured finance arrangements to be avoidance.

Ms Turner says the traded goods deficit is looking a bit better than in previous years because of lower imports and weakening profitability in general in New Zealand - fewer profits have been sent overseas.