New Zealand wholesale trade continued to increase in the third quarter, its sixth consecutive quarterly rise, though gains in most industries were partly offset by vehicle sales dipping from recent highs.

Seasonally adjusted sales gained 1.1 per cent in the three months ended September 30 from a 1.7 per cent rise in June, Stats NZ said.

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.

Four of the six wholesaling industries rose in the September quarter, with the largest increase from grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 2.8 per cent from the June 2017 quarter, driven by fruit exports and grocery wholesaling. Basic materials, which spans agricultural, mineral, metal and chemical, and timber and hardware goods and products, saw the second-largest rise, up 3.4 per cent.

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Wholesale sales values for motor vehicles and parts, including cars and trucks, fell 3.6 per cent. Sales values for this industry were at high levels in recent quarters, Stats NZ said.

"Although the sales fell in motor vehicle and parts wholesaling, stocks continued to build up in the September quarter," wholesale trade manager Sue Chapman said.

Actual wholesale trade sales was $25.5 billion in the latest quarter, up 6.2 per cent from the September 2016 quarter. The total value of wholesale stocks held at September 30 was $11.4b, up 6.8 per cent from a year earlier.