NZ posts bigger-than-expected trade surplus in March
By Tina Morrison
April 29 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand recorded a bigger-than-expected trade surplus in March, as exports fell less than forecast.
Statistics New Zealand said the trade surplus was $631 million in March, bigger than the $341 million expected in a Reuters poll of economists and compared with a February surplus of $83 million. Excluding the re-export of a drilling platform to Singapore, last month’s trade surplus was $432 million.
The annual trade deficit was $2.41 billion, the biggest in almost six years and ahead of last month’s $2.14 billion, but smaller than the $2.74 billion expected in the Reuters poll.
Annual exports to China dropped 23 percent in the year through March to $8.6 billion due to weakening demand for commodities such as whole milk powder. Exports to Australia slid 4.1 percent to $8.65 billion, propelling Australia to the country’s top export destination for the first time since the year ended November 2013.
Exports in March declined 2 percent to $4.93 billion from the year earlier month. That’s ahead of the $4.4 billion of exports expected in the Reuters poll where expectations ranged from $4.26 billion to $4.43 billion.
The decline in March exports was led by a 20 percent drop in milk powder, butter and cheese, New Zealand’s largest commodity export. Meat and edible offal exports increased 14 percent from the year earlier month, while wood exports slipped 14 percent.
Imports in March rose 4.1 percent to $4.3 billion from the year earlier month, led by consumption goods such as clothing. That’s ahead of the $4.06 billion of imports expected in the Reuters poll where expectations ranged from $3.9 billion to $4.27 billion.