Consents help get Canterbury moving

By Teuila Fuatai

Building work is starting to take off in the quake-hit region.  Photo / Geoff Sloan
Building work is starting to take off in the quake-hit region. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Canterbury's rebuild was boosted by a lift in building consents, rising house prices and increased retail spending in the first half of the year, according to ASB's "Cantometer" index.

The measure, which provides a snapshot of economic activity in construction, housing, employment and consumer spending, lifted to an overall level of 0.9 in July.

Anything above the index's base level of zero - which was the overall economic activity level in the June 2010 quarter, before the quakes - represents gains made during the rebuild.

According to ASB, a lift in the construction Cantometer sub-index was underpinned by improvements in residential and non-residential consent issuance.

Canterbury's housing market, which alongside the buoyant Auckland property market has been driving national house price increases, continued to heat up.

Rising rents in the region were another indication of persistent housing shortages, the bank said.

During the first half of the year, rents were up 4.4 per cent on a year ago. This compared with a national rent increase of 2.1 per cent.

Residents' spending habits had also begun to return to normal levels, with the index's retail trade indicator lifting 2.7 per cent in the three months to March 31.

Despite this, consumer confidence in the region remained flat in the three months to June - however ASB noted it remained at a "robust level and points to continued growth in retail spending".

Overall, results of the Cantometer show the region's economic recovery was starting to broaden beyond construction.

- APNZ

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