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NZ posts small trade surplus in March

By NZPA

Thursday 26th April 2007

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New Zealand posted a $61 million trade surplus in March, just above economists' forecasts of $50m and in line with last year's $69m surplus, Statistics New Zealand said today.

The March trade deficit came in at $5.78 billion, virtually unchanged from February but a significant improvement on the $7.01 billion deficit in the year to March 2006.

Exports in the month were $3.33 billion from $3.18 billion a year earlier while imports rose to $3.27 billion from $3.11 billion.

Seasonally adjusted merchandise exports over the March quarter rose 1.4% from the December quarter, while seasonally adjusted imports rose 1.0%.

The slightly larger increase in exports has resulted in a small reduction in the seasonally adjusted trade deficit for the March 2007 quarter, to just under $1.6 billion.

The current rise in seasonally adjusted exports follows a fall in the December 2006 quarter, which was due to high values in the June and September 2006 quarters.

The rise this quarter was influenced most by the movements of two commodity groups.

Milk powder, butter and cheese rose 14.0%.

Offsetting this, meat and edible offal fell 8.4% compared with the December 2006 quarter.

The seasonally adjusted rise in imports was led by petrol and avgas, which increased by more than half in the March quarter.

This followed a larger decrease in the December 2006 quarter. The irregular nature of petrol and avgas shipments can lead to these large variations in values.

Intermediate goods other than crude oil, and consumption goods, were also up this quarter, both showing their fifth consecutive increase.

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