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NZ February trade surplus $194m

Tuesday 29th March 2011

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Exports and imports rose to unexpectedly high levels in February, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) figures show.

The total value of goods exported in February was $3.87 billion, which was $550 million or 17% higher than a year earlier.

The largest rise in exports was in the milk powder, butter and cheese commodity grouping, which was up $212 million or 28%, dominated by unsweetened whole milk powder.

Crude oil exports rose $109 million to more than double the level of a year earlier, while exports of logs, wood and wood articles rose $72 million or 37%, led by pinus radiata logs.

The total value of goods imported in February was $3.68 billion, up $684 million or 23% from a year earlier.

Excluding aircraft, imports would have been $3.5 billion, an increase of $460 million or 15%. Petroleum and products also contributed significantly to the increase in imports, SNZ said.

The figures compared with median forecasts in a Reuters survey of economists which had been for exports of $3.48 billion and imports of $3.3 billion.

The trend in exports has grown strongly since October, and had pushed through the highs of late 2008, SNZ overseas trade manager Neil Kelly said.

The trend for total merchandise imports had increased strongly since October but was still below its peak in September 2008.

Last month there was a trade surplus of $194 million, which was 5% of the value of exports, compared with an average February surplus of 2.3% of exports for the previous five years.

For the year ended February there was a trade surplus of $758 million, or 1.7% of exports, the first surplus for a February year since 2002.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, total exports fell 0.4% in February following rises of 2.3% and 6.2% in December and January.



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