22 Dec 2016

GDP rises due to household spending and construction

1:03 pm on 22 December 2016

The economy has expanded at a faster pace over the past three months, thanks to the building boom and household spending.

Official figures show gross domestic product (GDP) - a broad measure of the health of the economy - grew 1.1 percent in the three months to September, compared with a revised 0.7 percent in each of the previous two quarters.

"This quarter's rise points to broad-based growth," Statistics New Zealand national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnett said. "Thirteen of the 16 industries were up, with the main weakness coming from agriculture."

Construction in an East Auckland suburb

Building and household spending contributed to the 1.1 percent growth in GDP in the three months to September. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Household spending continued to grow, rising 1.6 percent.

"We've seen Kiwis spend more on domestic travel, accommodation, eating out, and recreation," Mr Dunnett said.

The housing market also continued to help propel the economy.

Construction increased 2.1 percent, with activity in residential, industrial and commercial, and heavy and civil engineering construction all higher.

That reflected stronger investment in the sector. Residential building rose 2.3 percent during the quarter, and 9.5 percent for the year.

Plant, machinery and equipment investment decreased 6.5 percent.

The services sector benefited from the construction boom.

Spending rose 2 percent, led by scientific, architectural and engineering services, which had its largest quarterly increase in nearly nine years.

Decline in agriculture production

Agriculture production declined 1.6 percent, led by falls in milk production, cattle and wool.

Exports declined 0.6 percent, led by a 10 percent fall in meat exports, which offset a rise in dairy products and forest products.

On an annual basis, average growth rose to 3 percent.

When comparing activity in the September quarter with the same period a year ago, the pace of growth eased slightly to 3.5 percent.

The size of the economy stood at $256 billion.

GDP per capita increased 0.6 percent this quarter, following a 0.2 percent increase in the June quarter.

"On the whole, these data continue to reinforce the impact on headline GDP derived from robust population growth - largely supported by historic high levels of net migration," FNZC economics and strategy director Chris Green said.

Separately, the current account deficit - the difference between what the country earns and spends internationally - widened slightly, to $1.8bn in the September quarter.

"New Zealand spent more on imports of goods, and earned less from exports of goods this quarter," Statistics New Zealand's international statistics senior manager, Jason Attewell said.

New Zealand's annual current account deficit stood at $7.5bn, or 2.9 percent of GDP.