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Construction, tourism fuel strong New Zealand growth

AFP logoAFP 22/12/2016

Cranes operating at construction sites in Auckland, New Zealand © Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg Cranes operating at construction sites in Auckland, New Zealand New Zealand's economy exceeded expectations to grow 1.1 percent in the September quarter on the back of booming construction and record tourist numbers, official data showed Thursday.

The strong performance from July to September topped market forecasts of 0.9 percent and took annual economic growth to 3.0 percent.

Statistics New Zealand said 13 of the 16 industries used to gauge gross domestic product were positive, pointing to a broad-based expansion in economic activity.

The standout sectors were construction, up 2.1 percent, and transport, which surged 3.7 percent over the quarter.

"It is clear that the economy is still benefitting from the combination of high net migration, strong tourism flows and low interest rates," Capital Economics analyst Paul Dales said.

The strong economic activity was likely to spur New Zealand's stubbornly low inflation rate, easing pressure on the central bank to further cut interest rates from a record low of 1.75 percent, he added.

New Zealand recorded a record 3.45 million international visitors in the year to November 30, while net migration over the same period was an all-time high of 70,400.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said it was a welcome boost for the economy as the rural sector, once New Zealand's biggest export, struggled.

"It's hard to overstate the importance of key service sector exports like tourism and education in New Zealand's economic success in recent years," he said.

"They have taken up a lot of the shortfall as the dairy sector went through its downturn."

Joyce said New Zealand had one of the best growth rates in the developed world, with official forecasts predicting continued annual growth of about 3.0 percent until 2021.

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