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NZ net migration stays positive in November

NZ net migration stays positive in November, Australia still attractive to kiwis

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand attracted more new migrants in November as long-term arrivals were steady, though Australia’s attraction for kiwis persists.

Seasonally adjusted net migration slipped to 630 last month from 640 in October, though it’s down by nearly a third from the same month a year ago. That’s being driven by an increase in the number of New Zealanders jumping across the Tasman with Australia’s economy showing more resilience than New Zealand’s. Of the 5,547 departures last month, 2,873 went to Australia.

“Slowing net migration is factor contributing to weak demand for new housing and weak retail spending growth,” said Jane Turner, economist at ASB. “We expect that net migration will remain subdued for the time being and a key factor in household sector being less of a driver of growth in the current economic recovery.”

Inbound net migration has slowed down from last year, when returning expatriates and new New Zealanders helped underpin demand in the housing market. This year’s turnaround has put property under pressure, and house values are forecast to decline over the coming 12 months by the Reserve Bank.

Philip Borkin, economist at Goldman Sachs & Partners NZ Ltd., said today’s data didn’t do anything to damp their expectation that net migration could be a key driver for house prices in 2011.

European arrivals continued to taper off last month, with Asian migrants, especially Indians, taking their place.

“Although we see the current level of net migration as helping to provide a floor under the housing market (and domestic demand), we currently do not believe it is at a rate to trigger meaningful house price increases,” he said.

Tourist numbers rose 3% to 226,500 last month from a year earlier, led by an increasing volume of Chinese and Korean visitors. Chinese visitors hit a new record of 14,900.

Australian tourists, who have been driving the industry over the past two years due to New Zealand’s relatively cheap holidays on offer, held at 96,225 in November, and some 1.21 million people have come from Australia in the 12 months ended Nov. 30. British visitors continued to decline, falling 7.8% to an annual 237,900, as did American tourists which dropped 1.6% to 191,900 in the year.


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