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BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand's trade surplus was wider than expected in June as the country's dairy producers sold more product overseas.
The surplus was $331 million last month, up from a revised $232 million in May, Statistics NZ says. That is wider than the $134 million forecast in a Reuters survey. The annual deficit of $747 million, or 7.9% of exports, was smaller than the expected $870 million shortfall.
Exports rose 6.2% to $4.2 billion in June, with a 9.9% lift in foreign sales of milk powder, butter and cheese to $979 million, and a 25% gain in log, wood and wood article sales to $312 million.
New Zealand producers sold a seasonally adjusted 240,000 tonnes of milk powder, butter and cheese in June, up 24% from the same month a year earlier, while log and wood quantities were 49% higher than a year earlier at 1.72 million tonnes.
Dairy products, including casein and caseinates, made up 27% of New Zealand's annual $46.68 billion exports.
Statistics NZ says the trend for monthly exports of milk powder, butter and cheese has been declining since a record high in November 2011. Last month was excluded from its calculations because it was "unusually large".
The country's exporters increased the value of sales into China 58% to $602 million in June, taking annual exports to $6.12 billion.
The increase in foreign sales to Asia offset a 21% slump in exports to the European Union, as that region contends with sovereign debt woes, eroding its ability to import goods.
The value of New Zealand's imports rose 3% to $3.87 billion with an increase in the value of vehicle parts and crude oil.
Last month, the kiwi dollar was 1.1% higher on a trade-weighted basis than in May and 0.7% higher than June 2011.