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NZ residential building activity rises 4.3% in 4th-qtr, driven by Canterbury

04 Mar 15

New Zealand residential building activity rose for the first time in three quarters in the final three months of 2014, led by earthquake-related rebuilding work in Canterbury.

The value of residential building work put in place rose 4.3 percent to $1.4 billion, seasonally adjusted, in the fourth quarter, and was up 2.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Non-residential work fell 5 percent to $996 million and was down 0.7 percent from a year earlier.

On an unadjusted basis, the value of all building work climbed 23 percent in calendar 2014 to $15.3 billion, rounding out the third straight year of gains, with Auckland and Canterbury alone accounting for $9.7 billion, or nearly two third of the national total. The gain in residential activity in the fourth quarter may have partly reflected a rebound after a quiet spell for the housing market in the third quarter, around September's general election, said economists at Westpac Banking Corp.

"The recent soft outturns for quarterly construction growth are by no means a sign that the trend is slowing," said Westpac economist Michael Gordon. "The level of building work jumped by a near-record 14 percent in the March quarter last year and has effectively maintained that level since."

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