New Zealand building consents rose 1.2 per cent in February, the second monthly increase, boosted by an increase in retirement village construction plans, but overall the construction sector remains "very weak."
Building consents rose 1.2 per cent to 1,147 in February, compared with January, seasonally adjusted and excluding apartments, according to Statistics New Zealand. However, when the volatile apartments measure is excluded, consents decreased 6.7 per cent to 1,230.
"Consent issuance remains very weak, indicating a very subdued construction outlook in the near term," said Christina Leung, an economist for the ASB Bank. "Low levels of housing construction over the first half of 2012 will continue to put pressure on the housing supply and generate upward pressure on house prices, particularly in Auckland and Canterbury.
"We expect post-earthquake rebuilding will ramp up from late 2012, and this will likely see some easing in housing supply constraints."
Still, more new dwellings were consented in 11 of New Zealand's 16 regions when compared with the same period a year earlier. The regions with the largest increases were all boosted by retirement village units.
Canterbury showed the largest regional increased, up 112 to 260 new home permits on the same month a year earlier, reflecting the low number of houses approved last year due to the region's earthquakes.
Total non-residential consents were up 46 per cent to $375 million on February last year, but appeared to reflect typically "lumpy" consents for commercial and industrial projects, and were coming off a low base, said Leung.