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NZ home building consents rise 1.4 percent in August, though trend growth softens

Monday 30th September 2013

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New Zealand home building consents rose for the first time in three months in August although the government statistician's trend series of data shows activity may be slowing for the first time since March 2011.

New dwelling consents, including apartments, rose 1.4 percent in August from July, seasonally adjusted, and were up 23 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Excluding apartments, consents rose 0.8 percent in the latest month.

The actual number of home building consents issued in Auckland in August fell to 503 from 556 in July, while in Christchurch, the other hotspot for activity, consents fell to 181 from 238. Based on the statistician's trend series, consents excluding apartments nationwide rose just 0.1 percent in the latest month, seasonally adjusted, while the trend including apartments fell 0.2 percent.

"The main drag on the August figures was a drop in Auckland consents," said Michael Gordon, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp. "The Auckland figures have seen similar short-lived declines within their upward trend over the last two years. Nevertheless, the number of consents appears to be taking a great deal of time to reach the levels need to meet demand."

In Christchurch, "the level of consents in each of the last three months has been above the peak of last decade's boom - more evidence that the post-quake rebuild is moving into a higher gear," he said.

Non-residential building consents fell 20 percent to $338 million in August from in July and were down 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

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