Canterbury rebuild sparks growth

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 17:28 19/02/2013

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The Canterbury rebuild is dominating year on year growth according to an ANZ Bank regional trends survey.

The ANZ Bank's regional trends survey shows Canterbury's economic activity was 7.5 per cent higher in 2012 from the 2011 year.

In the three months to December 2012, economic activity rose 1.8 per cent in Canterbury from the previous quarter.

The year-on-year growth rate was twice that of the second-placed Nelson-Marlborough which showed a 3.5 per cent increase in regional economic activity in 2012 from the prior year, the bank survey showed.

It had been two years since all of the regions in the country had registered a positive rate of annual growth, the survey compiled by bank economist Steve Edwards said.

The nationwide measure of regional economic activity increased 2.5 per cent in the 2012 calendar year.

The previous time the nationwide growth was this strong was just prior to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, when the economy was recovering from the downturn induced by the global financial crisis, the bank said.

The North Island economy grew 1.9 per cent in the twelve months to December 2012. The South Island economy, led by Canterbury, recorded annual economic growth of 4.9 per cent.

The bank said it was also the first time in eight years, all 14 regions simultaneously recorded a quarterly expansion in economic activity.

Gisborne and Hawke's Bay recorded the strongest quarter on quarter increases of 3.9 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Waikato, Manawatu-Whanganui, and Otago recorded an increase between 2 and 3 per cent.

Canterbury showed a 1.6 per cent improvement on the September quarter.

Nelson-Marlborough and Wellington trailed the field, with quarterly increases in economic activity of about 1 per cent.

The nationwide measure of regional economic activity increased 1.8 per cent in the final three months of 2012.

The North Island economy expanded 1.9 per cent while the South Island economy grew 1.6 per cent.

Stronger gains were noted in real estate market statistics, retail spending, car registrations, guest nights, and building consents. These were partially offset by weaker employment data.

Edwards noted that retail interest rates edged lower as competition across the banking sector intensified in the fourth quarter.

The exchange rate eased in the final quarter of last year but had subsequently strengthened. Commodity prices have been steadily rising since August 2012.

Business confidence was slightly weaker compared to the September quarter. Manawatu-Whanganui recorded the highest level of confidence, while sentiment in Waikato eased to a three-and-a-half year low.

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Consumer confidence improved in most regions. Wellington topped the survey, followed by Auckland and Hawke's Bay/Gisborne.

Confidence also improved significantly in Canterbury. Retail sales posted strong gains across most of the regions. 

- The Press

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