16 Jan 2013

ANZ says economy remains stagnant

8:39 pm on 16 January 2013

An analysis of traffic volumes suggests the New Zealand economy is stagnant, despite activity in the housing market and a boost in business sentiment.

The ANZ Bank's Truckometer,which maps quarterly economic growth using traffic volumes, shows traffic flows fell in December last year following a lift in the two previous months.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said on Wednesday that weakness in the traffic volumes suggests softness across the economy.

"If you look at a lot of the indicators we're seeing an obvious lift in housing, business confidence figures that came out yesterday were reasonably encouraging - but that's expectation as opposed to reality.

"If I have a look at messages from our Truckometer which is real-time hard data ... it still suggests when you strip everything out, we've still got an underlying economy that's somewhat skittish."

Meanwhile, In Australia, consumer confidence has edged only slightly higher, despite a raft of rate cuts.

The index rose 0.6% in January to 100.6, indicating that optimists only just outnumber pessimists.

TD Securities economist Alvin Pontoh says the small lift in confidence is disappointing, as he had been expecting a much bigger lift of between 4% to 5%.

He believes that Australians - the biggest consumers of New Zealand products buying nearly a quarter of exports - may be overly pessimistic about the economy.

"We were looking for a bigger rebound because equity markets have been pretty strong in recent months and he global economic outlook has improved considerably - especially since the US avoided the fiscal cliff earlier this month."