New Zealand's trade deficit widened more than expected last month, led by a surge in crude oil and petroleum products, helping narrow the annual surplus, government figures show.

The deficit was $751 million in September, up from $697 million in August, which was the first monthly deficit since December last year, according to Statistics New Zealand. The annual surplus was $724 million, down from a revised $1.02 billion for the 12 months ended Aug. 31.

The value of petroleum products imported jumped 83 per cent in the latest month, which the government statistician said reflected the large, irregular shipments of fuel and an unusually low value in September last year

Exports in the latest month were valued at $3.44 billion, little changed from August's $3.43 billion, while imports rose to $4.19 billion from $4.12 billion. In the year, exports increased 12 per cent to $46.79 billion and imports rose 12.9 per cent to $46.07 billion.


Economists had expected a monthly deficit of $450 million for an annual surplus of $1.07 billion, according to a Reuters survey.

In the month of September, exports of dairy products rose 1.7 per cent to $685 million and gained 22 per cent to $11.5 billion in the year. Meat and edible offal jumped 38 per cent to $302 million for an increase of 12 per cent to $5.57 billion.

Imports of petroleum rose to $654 million in the month from a year-earlier $357 million and climbed 22 per cent to $7.7 billion in the year. Mechanical machinery imports gained 4.8 per cent to $533 million in the month and rose 13 per cent to $5.59 billion in the year.

The trade deficit in September amounted to 22 per cent of exports, the statistician said.