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Lift in Economic Activity

Gross Domestic Product: March 2002 quarter

28 June 2002

Economic activity increased 1.1 percent in the March 2002 quarter, according to information released today by Statistics New Zealand. The rise in activity this quarter reflects higher consumer spending coupled with a rise in export volumes. For the year ended March 2002, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 3.2 percent.

The economy has grown over the last four quarters and as a result is 4.0 percent higher this quarter when compared with the same period last year. Growth of 1.9 percent in the June 2001 quarter was followed by increases of 0.2 and 0.7 percent in the September and December quarters respectively.

Export volumes were up 3.7 percent this quarter and follow two consecutive quarterly declines. Both goods and services exports rose during the March quarter, the latter reflecting a recovery in inbound visitor numbers to New Zealand. Dairy and seafood products were the key contributors to the increase in the volume of goods exported.

Internal demand was up 0.7 percent in the March 2002 quarter, and is up 3.5 percent on an annual basis. This quarter's increase was due to continued buoyant consumer spending, up 1.5 percent, and a further rise in business inventory levels. This was partly offset by lower fixed investment, with both business and housing capital expenditure down for the quarter.

There were strong lifts in household spending on both durable and non-durable goods this quarter. Expenditure on furniture and major appliances was up, while spending on food and beverages was the key contributor to the rise in non-durable goods.

Business investment in fixed assets declined 3.5 percent this quarter. The plant, machinery and equipment series continues to show volatility, down 8.5 percent, following a 19.1 percent rise in the December 2001 quarter. This decline was partly offset by a rise in non-residential building construction.

Most growth occurred in the services industries, which rose 1.6 percent this quarter and are now 4.6 percent higher for the year ending March 2002. Wholesale trade rose 2.1 percent this quarter reflecting the increase in external trade. There were further rises in retailing, accommodation, and restaurants, as households maintained their spending and inbound tourist numbers recovered.

Transport services also increased due to an increase in domestic and international travel.

Agriculture production rose this quarter, with increases being recorded in dairy, wool and lamb production. In contrast, activity in the forestry, mining, construction and manufacturing industries all fell.

The expenditure-based measure of GDP, released concurrently with the production-based measure, recorded a 1.4 percent increase for the March 2002 quarter.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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