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NZ building activity picks up in December quarter as Canterbury work emerges

Monday 5th March 2012

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New Zealand building activity picked up in the final three months of 2011 as construction in Canterbury began to emerge, with the region’s rebuild looming as a major economic stimulus.

The value of building work put in place rose a seasonally adjusted 2.9 percent to $1.7 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, bouncing back from a decade-low in the previous quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. Residential work climbed 4.4 percent and non-residential activity was up 1.4 percent.

“In Canterbury, there appeared to be a greater increase in building activity than in the rest of New Zealand,” industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said in a statement. “This was true for both residential and non-residential building.”

The bill for the Canterbury rebuild is estimated to run beyond $20 billion, and is seen as the likely foundation for New Zealand’s economic recovery. Still, ongoing seismic activity in the region has delayed work as insurers remain nervous about covering new work, deferring activity and sapping earnings for construction companies, such as Fletcher Building.

Today’s figures come after January building consents showed an improvement in intentions, mainly off the back of permits to build retirement units in Canterbury.

On an annual basis, the value of all building work put in place dropped 10 percent to $9.93 billion, with a smaller contribution from residential housing than in 2010.

The value of residential building put in place fell 14 percent to $5.39 billion in 2011, led by a 16 percent slide in new dwellings. Non-residential activity dropped an annual 5.7 percent to $4.54 billion last year, with big declines in construction of accommodation buildings, hospitals and nursing homes and miscellaneous buildings.

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