New Zealand net migration rose in August, continuing the trend for every month this year, as the number of people moving to Australia continued to decline as many saw better prospects in New Zealand.
New Zealand gained a seasonally adjusted net 2,100 migrants in August, Statistics New Zealand said. The seasonally adjusted net loss of 1,140 migrants to Australia was the smallest net loss since November 2009. Net migration to Australia has declined since December last year as fewer New Zealanders move to Australia, the agency said.
Canterbury gained 3,600 international migrants in the year to August 30, turning around net losses in the 2011 and 2012 years following the region's earthquakes.
New Zealand's Reserve Bank last week cited stronger than expected migration figures as one of the reasons for lifting its outlook for interest rates next year.
The central bank held the official cash rate at 2.5 per cent and ramped up its forecast for increases to the 90-day bank bill rate, often seen as a proxy for the OCR, with a sharper lift in the middle of next year.
"There is now clearly a positive feedback loop between net immigration and New Zealand's economic upswing," Westpac Bank senior economist Felix Delbruck said in a note. "Better local economic prospects, and softer prospects in Australia, are boosting net immigration, which will further boost domestic consumer and housing demand."
Westpac expects annual net immigration to accelerate from 12,848 in the year ended August, to 17,000 by the end of this year and to over 25,000 by the end of next year. Still, house price inflation will probably cool next year as higher mortgage rates and central bank lending restrictions begin to bite, Delbruck said.
In its September Monetary Policy Statement published last week, the central bank said it expects the 90-day bank bill rate to rise to 3 per cent in the June quarter and 3.6 per cent by the end of 2014, before steadily increasing to 4.2 per cent by March 2016. It had previously predicted the rate would be at 3.2 per cent by the end of 2014, rising to 4.2 per cent in early 2016.
The higher projection was due to stronger-than-expected net migration and export commodity prices, and the recent depreciation in the New Zealand dollar, the central bank said.
Meanwhile, Statistics New Zealand figures show travel activity hit new records for the month in August as more kiwis left on overseas trips and the country lured more international visitors here.
The number of visitors rose 6 per cent to 189,300 in August from the year earlier month as more tourists came from Australia and China, Statistics New Zealand said. The number of New Zealanders leaving on overseas travel rose 6 per cent to 205,100 in August, boosted by trips to Australia and the US, the agency said.
"Short-term travel both in and out of New Zealand has climbed every August since 2009," Andrea Blackburn, population statistics manager at Statistics New Zealand, said in a statement.