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NZ building work put in place rises 1.5% in 3rd-qtr, led by non-residential activity

New Zealand building work accelerated in the September quarter as increased activity in non-residential construction offset a decline in residential building.

The volume of building work put in place rose a seasonally adjusted 1.5 percent in the third quarter, accelerating from a 1 percent gain three months earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Non-residential construction rose 4.4 percent, while residential building slipped 0.7 percent.

The value of work rose 2.2 percent across all buildings to $3.86 billion in the quarter, with a 5.4 percent increase in non-residential building to $1.5 billion and a 0.4 percent gain in residential values to $2.36 billion.

"The trend has been generally rising since the September 2011 quarter, the lowest point in ten years," said Statistics NZ. "The level is now 43 percent higher than three years ago, and just 2.3 percent lower than the series high in the June 2005 quarter."

Construction has been seen as a major driver in the country's economy, as demand for housing outstrips supply in Auckland, New Zealand's most populous city, stoking a home building boom. Meanwhile the Canterbury rebuild, where New Zealand's second largest city is being rebuilt after a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 devastated the city, is hitting its peak.

On an unadjusted basis, the value of New Zealand construction work climbed 22 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, to eclipse the $4 billion mark for the first time. The value of residential building rose 20.4 percent from a year earlier to $2.47 billion, while non-residential building increased 25 percent to $1.54 billion. Canterbury recorded $1 billion in building activity, a quarterly record, Statistics NZ said in its report.

On an annual basis, the value of new dwelling work rose 27 percent to $7.26 billion, and non-residential building increased 10.2 percent to $5.5 billion. Overall, total building rose 20 percent to $14.58 billion in the year.