26 Sep 2008

Confirmation of recession awaited

10:56 am on 26 September 2008

Official figures due on Friday are expected to confirm New Zealand was in recession for the first half of this year.

Economists expect a fall of 0.5% in the Gross Domestic Product in the June quarter, following on from a contraction of 0.3% in the March quarter.

A contraction for two consecutive quarters is the technical definition of a recession.

The last time New Zealand was in recession was the second half of 1997 after the Asian currency crisis and drought.

It continued into a third quarter of negative growth in the first three months of 1998.

Eight out of nine economists polled by Radio New Zealand expect the current recession to follow a similar timeline and last three quarters.

Westpac economist Doug Steel expects the uncertain outlook for financial markets means any recovery in the final quarter of this year will be muted.

The Reserve Bank predicts inflation will reach 5% in the current quarter.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says some sectors will remain weak despite falling petrol prices, tax cuts and an easing in the Official Cash Rate by the Reserve Bank. The OCR is currently 7.5%.

The construction industry has shed 10,000 jobs since the middle of last year and is expected to be a significant contributor to the negative GDP numbers.