New Zealand's services sector, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, expanded at a slower pace in September, with all five sub-indexes posting a weaker result.

The BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index declined to a seasonally adjusted 54.1 in September from an eight-month high of 57.9 in August. Still, all of the five sub-indexes remained above the 50 level that separates contraction from expansion.

"The Performance of Services Index (PSI) suggests service sector growth is tempering," Bank of New Zealand senior economist Doug Steel said in his report. "We wouldn't read too much into one month's result. Expansion, albeit at a touch slower pace, remains widespread with positive readings across the major headline indices covering sales, employment, and new orders as well as across all industries and regions and most firm sizes."

Steel noted that the latest month's result may have been impacted by above normal rainfall in the period, school holidays, or moderating house sales.


The survey showed large firms experienced a contraction in the month, with a reading of 46.4, and also had a weaker reading in last week's Performance of Manufacturing Index.

The performance of composite index, which combines the two measures, declined to 54.6 from 57.5 on the GDP-weighted basis, and slid to 55.9 from 56.7 on a free-weighted basis.

"Combining the PSI and PMI, into a composite (PCI) indicator, suggests ongoing robust economic growth into year's end," Steel said. "But the hint, from the PCI, that growth may be slowing is in contrast to the general strengthening in other recent business (and consumer) confidence surveys."

The result may reflect the difficulty in finding workers, he said.

The employment reading slipped to 51.6 from 54.2, activity/sales declined to 57.3 from 61.4, new orders/business fell to 56 from 60.4, stocks/inventories slid to 53.3 from 55.8, while supplier/deliveries sank to 51.7 from 56.3.