Canterbury's building surge may be levelling

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2014

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ASB's "Cantometer" rose again last month showing Canterbury's economy continued to be driven by its construction sector.

But the growth in the residential construction sector may be starting to flatten out a bit.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said dwelling consents surged at the end of last year and beginning of this year and while the volume of dwelling consents in Canterbury was still higher in the past few months than in December the growth in dwelling consents was levelling out.

"There are emerging signs that dwelling consents issued in Canterbury may be starting to flatten."

Also while house prices in Christchurch continued to rise and were 7.3 per cent higher for the year to March, the pace of annual price growth was sitting just below the national level of about 8 per cent.

"Construction growth should continue to lead Canterbury economic activity over the next couple of years," Tuffley said.

In May 2014, the value of building consents was $336 million for Canterbury. That compares with $332m in April and $356m for Canterbury in March.

Of those, more than $1 billion of consents in three months, 35 per cent is non-residential.

The Cantometer is designed to summarise activity in Christchurch since the first earthquake in September 2010.

ASB has constructed an index which comprises five sub indices: construction, housing, employment, consumer and miscellaneous. Zero represents June 10 just before the quakes started.

The Cantometer index for July rose to 1.6 from 1.5 in June.

Within that the construction index stood at 4.2 while housing was 0.2 and employment 0.9.

Tuffley said the index for non-residential consent values was the highest in the two years the Cantometer had been running.

Tuffley said there was now almost as many dwelling consents issued in Canterbury as in Auckland when Auckland's population was three times Canterbury's.

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