20 Sep 2018

NZ's economic growth picks up

11:56 am on 20 September 2018

The economy has grown faster than expected in the second quarter driven by strong activity in agricultural and service industries and countering gloomy forecasts because of the fall in business and consumer confidence.

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Photo: 123RF

Gross domestic product (GDP), the main economic barometer, rose 1 percent for the three months ended June, double the rate for the first quarter.

It was the strongest quarterly growth in two years.

The annual rate picked up slightly to 2.8 percent on the same time last year.

"Once again service industries led growth," Stats NZ national accounts senior manager Susan Hollows said.

"Goods-producing and primary industries also saw rises this quarter."

The largest contribution to growth came from agriculture, up 4.1 percent, with a rebound in dairy production, higher forestry harvesting and processing of cattle with Mycobacterium bovis that have been culled.

House building also lifted along with activity in the services sector such as business spending, telecommunications, and tourism.

There was a slight fall in business investment.

The numbers were above expectations, and will mean the Reserve Bank will be comfortable to keep interest rates on hold for the foreseeable future.

The New Zealand dollar rose on the news, gaining more than a quarter of a cent to 66.4 US cents.

"Not only was the overall result stronger than expected, the details were more encouraging for the economy's growth prospects going forward," Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said.

He said the strength of the data should put paid to talk of the need for interest rate cuts, but focus would turn to the current quarter and whether the fall in confidence has flowed through into business and spending decisions.

Once the rising population was factored in, the gains per person were more modest rising 0.5 percent in the June quarter and 1.1 percent over the year.