Top of the South economic activity down

Last updated 12:37 20/08/2014

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Nelson-Marlborough was one of nine regions where economic activity shrank in the June quarter, according to the ANZ regional trends survey.

Canterbury and Auckland's economic activity sizzled in the June quarter but many other regions slowed noticeably.

Canterbury boasted growth of 0.9 per cent in the June quarter, just pipped by Auckland's 1 per cent.

However, nine other regional economies' economic activity shrank in the June quarter, including Nelson-Marlborough by 1.5 per cent, Wellington's by 1 per cent, Otago's by 1.2 per cent and West Coast by 1.3 per cent.

The bank's survey did not give separate figures for Nelson and Marlborough. It said business confidence eased marginally in Nelson-Marlborough over the June quarter. Pipfruit and viticulture enjoyed similar returns to the 2013 season, while falling log prices impacted on the primary sector.

The value of commercial build consents eased to its lowest since 2006 but the number was more robust, lifting 4 per cent. Dwelling consents were down 1 per cent to be 12 per cent lower than a year ago. The residential property market had picked up a little over the last two months but sale numbers remained 10 per cent below a year ago.

It said Nelson-Marlborough recorded a strong increase in the latest official retail trade survey over the quarter and the past year. However, weaker electronic transaction data was reported by Paymark for the region.

A small rise in the level of employment in the region wasn't enough to stop the unemployment rate lifting to an 18-month high, it said.

While Canterbury's economic activity remained strong post earthquakes, it looks like it was flattening. Canterbury's economic growth slowed a little to 4.8 per cent for the year to June 2014 compared to 4.9 per cent for the year to March 2013, but it was still ahead of the 4.2 per cent nationwide growth for the year to June.

Canterbury boasted the lowest unemployment rate - 2.8 per cent - for the fifth consecutive quarter. Despite activity slowing slightly, Canterbury's June quarter was the 13th consecutive quarterly rise in economic activity.

ANZ economist Steve Edwards said Canterbury was still one of the fastest growing regions on a year-to-year basis "It's still going forward, but not as quickly." He said the region's growth was likely to stabilise around 4 per cent for the next few years.

"It's going to be an interesting period of time. We had a pickup in dwellings consents over the last year and a half and now there is a focus on commercial projects." The number of dwelling consents slipped 1.5 per cent in the June quarter, but remained 30 per cent higher than a year ago, suggesting residential building might be close to a peak. In contrast, the value of commercial building consents lifted 33 per cent in the last quarter, 65 per cent up on a year ago.

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Business confidence eased marginally in Nelson and Marlborough over the June quarter. The wine sector reported that around 600 hectares of grape plantings were planned for the next two years, but there were concerns about the high dollar.

The region's unemployment rate lifted to an 18-month high of 4.6 per cent.

Most of the West Coast's real estate indicators, like numbers of dwelling consents, house prices and section sales, deteriorated in the three months to June 30, the report said. However, the number of new car registrations rose 14 per cent in the past three month and was up 45 per cent from a year ago. The region's unemployment rate edged up to 5 per cent, with job losses in Westport and Reefton. Fairfax NZ

- The Nelson Mail

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