October 24, 2018 / 11:03 PM / in a month

REFILE-UPDATE 1-New Zealand trade gap widens in September to largest on record

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    WELLINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - New Zealand recorded its
widest-ever monthly trade deficit in September, with imports
affected by higher oil prices and exports hurt by farming
seasonality that was expected to shift in the coming months and
shrink the trade gap.
    Strong machinery imports in the September figures suggested
that weak business confidence figures, which have reached their
lowest in nearly a decade, have not hurt investment.
    The monthly trade deficit was NZ$1.56 billion ($1.02
billion) in September, the statistics office said on Thursday.
The annual deficit was NZ$5.19 billion, the largest since
January 2009.
    "New Zealand is coming off quite a weak agricultural
production season and the new season has started very strongly
so we expect export volumes to pick up," said Nathan Penny,
senior rural economist at ASB Bank.
    "We're nearing the point where this is as bad as it gets and
we do expect an improvement going forward." 
    Exports totaled NZ$4.33 billion for the month while imports
were NZ$5.89 billion. The data include an increase of NZ$266
million in imports of aircraft and components, which is likely
to have a one-off effect on the figures.
    Imports of petroleum and related products for the year ended
September were $7.1 billion in total, up 39 percent from the
previous year. Imports of machinery and equipment such as
turbo-jets, propellers, bulldozers, excavators and computers,
were up 15 percent.
    "One of the things we've been quite keen to keep an eye on
was if weak business confidence translates into actual weakness
in activity, but at this stage firms are still investing in
plant and machinery so no smoking gun on that front," Penny
said.
 ($1 = 1.5328 New Zealand dollars)

 (Reporting by Marius Zaharia)
  
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