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New Zealand's inbound migration stayed elevated in December as the number of new migrants continued to rise and fewer locals packed up to cross the Tasman.
The country gained a seasonally adjusted 2,800 net new migrants in December, largely unchanged from a month earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Seasonally adjusted, about 2,600 people left New Zealand for Australia, in line with a month earlier, while the number of new arrivals rose to 8,300 from 8,200 in November.
On an annual basis, New Zealand gained a net 22,500 new migrants, compared to an outflow of 1,200 a year earlier. That's the biggest inflow of migrants since 2003, when the country gained a net 34,900 migrants.
Inbound migration is seen as one of the factors driving New Zealand's accelerating economic momentum as it fuels a bubbling property market. The Reserve Bank today signalled an interest rate hike is imminent as it looks to head off inflationary pressures, in an economy that's expected to grow at an annual pace of about 3.5 percent this year.
Australia was the biggest contributor of new migrants, with 19,500 permanent and long-term arrivals in 2013, a gain of 31 percent from a year earlier. That was followed by 14,000 people from the UK, down 0.4 percent from 2012 and 8,200 people from China, up 5.9 percent.
Today's figures also showed a 4.9 percent rise in short-term visitor arrivals to 381,900 in December from the same month in 2012, for an annual gain of 6 percent to 2.72 million. Increasing numbers of Australian and US visitors offset declining numbers of Chinese in December.