New Zealand wholesale trade rose in the fourth quarter, led by strong fruit exports.

Seasonally adjusted sales gained 0.7 percent in the three months ended December 31, 2016, from a 1 per cent gain in the third quarter, Statistics New Zealand figures show. Actual wholesale stocks rose 1.6 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2015.

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 quarter 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. In the latest period, four of six wholesale industries recorded gains.

Grocery, liquor and tobacco products rose 2 per cent, with fruit exports higher than usual for a December quarter, a period which is non-peak season for fruit exports. Sales of motor vehicles and parts rose 2.2 per cent and machinery and equipment sales gained 1.7 per cent.


Other goods wholesaling dropped 1.9 per cent, while commission-based sales dropped 2.3 per cent.

Actual wholesale trade sales of $25.9 billion in the December quarter were up 3.8 per cent from the same period in 2015. The total value of wholesale stocks held at December 31 was $11b, up 1.6 per cent from a year earlier.