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NZ wholesale trade rises for third quarter in December

New Zealand's wholesale trade grew for a third quarter in the final three months of 2014, with increased activity for apparel, pharmaceuticals and furniture leading the expansion.

Seasonally adjusted sales rose 0.3 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, slowing from the 0.6 percent pace in September, and rounding out a third quarter of growth, according to Statistics New Zealand. On an adjusted basis, wholesale sales were 2.8 percent higher than the same period in 2013 at $23.35 billion, and stocks held at the end of period were up 6.7 percent at $9.61 billion from a year earlier.

Other goods, which includes textile and apparel, pharmaceuticals, and furniture and floor coverings, led the quarterly gain, up 4.7 percent, or $152 million, while commission-based wholesaling climbed 9.2 percent, or $38 million. Basic material sales, which includes primary goods such as agriculture products, minerals and timber, rose 0.8 percent and motor vehicle and auto-parts gained 1.2 percent in the quarter.

Grocery, liquor and tobacco wholesale trade dropped 1.5 percent in the quarter, while machinery and equipment decreased 0.3 percent.

"As in the previous quarter, there were mixed results in the wholesaling industries this quarter, with four of the six industries this time having increased sales," business indicators manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.

Wholesale trade acts as an intermediary between the manufacturer and the consumer, and the survey is typically watched by economists as it feeds into the national accounts and gross domestic product calculations.