2 Jun 2015

Terms of trade up in year's first quarter

6:21 pm on 2 June 2015

New Zealand's purchasing power with the rest of the world has risen, thanks to lower petrol prices.

Official figures showed the terms of trade rose 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year but imports decreased 5.1 percent, led by a 29 percent fall in petroleum prices.

Export prices fell 3.7 percent, driven by declines in dairy products and meat.

Westpac Bank senior economist Michael Gordon said the balance was likely to reverse in the next couple of quarters, as global oil prices were strengthening, while dairy prices remained weak.

"We saw a 1.5 percent rise in the terms of trade for the March quarter. I think that's going to prove to be an aberration.

"What happened in this case was we had falls in a lot of export prices, particularly the commodity exports, but that was actually outweighed by the big plunge in dairy prices that happened late last year/early this year," he said.

Mr Gordon said the terms of trade were expected to show overseas purchasing power has declined since March.