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Recession still hammering NZ

RECESSION continues to hammer New Zealand's economy, which shrank in the three months through March for a fifth consecutive quarter to record its biggest annual decline in activity in 17 years, data showed yesterday.

Statistics New Zealand said gross domestic product fell 1 percent in the March quarter, after a fall of 1 percent in the three months ended December 31. The GDP also shrank 1 percent for the year ended March.

It's the first time since the series began in 1986 that GDP has declined for five straight quarters. The 1 percent drops of the December and March quarters were the largest since 1992, the statistics agency said.

The biggest contributors to the annual fall were an 8.9 percent drop in construction and a 5.4 percent fall in manufacturing, it noted.

The main input to the March quarter fall was manufacturing, which fell 7.2 percent.

Household consumption spending fell 1.4 percent in the March quarter, the biggest drop recorded since 1991.

The size of the quarterly decline in GDP caught many economists by surprise after they predicted a median 0.7 percent fall, although New Zealand's Reserve Bank, the central bank, correctly forecast the 1 percent contraction.

Bank Governor Alan Bollard said recently he expected the June quarter would fall further, but some weak growth was likely by the year end.


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