New Zealand wholesale trade dipped in the final three months of 2015 as a drop in sales of basic material products, such as metals, minerals and agriculture, helped snap two quarters of gains.
Seasonally adjusted sales fell 0.2 per cent in the three months ended December 31, turning around a 3 per cent increase in the September quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. The quarterly decline was led by a 2.7 per cent drop in basic material sales, which spans agricultural, mineral, metal and chemical, and timber and hardware goods and products, its third fall in four quarters. Grocery, liquor and tobacco product sales fell 1.6 per cent in the quarter, snapping three quarters of increases.
Wholesale trade covers intermediary transactions between manufacturers and consumers, which feeds into the national accounts and is used by economists to predict wider economic activity. Statistics NZ changed its methodology in collecting data for the September survey to use more administrative data and reduce its reliance on surveys, while also ending its split of raw materials and finished goods in measuring total stocks.
Actual wholesale sales rose 2.4 per cent to $24.97 billion in the three months ended December 31 from the same period a year earlier, with motor vehicles and auto-parts trading up 8.4 per cent and grocery, liquor and tobacco products 7.6 per cent higher than December 2014. Basic material trade dropped 3.8 per cent from a year earlier, its fourth straight decline.
The data showed wholesale stocks were up 5.6 per cent to $10.79 billion as at December 31 from a year earlier. On a seasonally adjusted basis, stocks grew 2.6 per cent in the quarter.