9 Mar 2010

Manufacturing surge boosts growth expectations

3:11 pm on 9 March 2010

A surge in manufacturing and construction activity has sent economists scrambling to revise upwards their forecasts for economic growth.

The value of manufacturing sales rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.7%, to $18.7 million, in the three months to December.

The volume of sales rose 3.1% to $13.9 million, following a fall of 1.7% in the September quarter, when a nine-year low was reached.

Meanwhile, the volume of residential construction rose by more than 7%.

BNZ Capital senior economist Craig Ebert says the better-than-expected figures pushed up his own forecasts for economic growth in the December quarter from about 0.4% to 0.8%.

Deutsche Bank chief economist Darren Gibbs is picking quarterly growth of 0.6%, and on an annual basis, 0.3%.

Mr Gibbs says these figures could rise further depending on the strength of other key data that is due out in the next few weeks, such as overseas trade volumes.

Latest figures on Gross Domestic Product, a broad measure of the health of the economy, will be released on 25 March.