New Zealand services sector activity slipped from a six-year high in November, while remaining at an elevated level, adding to other recent evidence that momentum in the economy is picking up pace.
The BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Services Index (PSI) fell 1.4 points to 56.3, remaining in expansion for a seventh straight month.
The PSI was again led by new business/orders, with a reading of 60.8, down from 63 in October. Activity/sales fell to 58.3 from 60.9. Employment rose to 54.4, the highest since April last year, from 52.8, stocks/inventories fell to 51.2 from 54.8 and supplier deliveries slipped to 50.5.
"Momentum looks like being maintained at least in the near term judging by the new orders index," said Bank of New Zealand economist Doug Steel. "This certainly fits with our view that economic growth was strong in the second half of 2013 and is likely to remain so into the New Year."
The seasonally adjusted BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Composite Index, which combines the PSI with the Performance of Manufacturing Index, fell 1.3 points to 55.8 on a GDP-weighted index and rose 0.6 points to 56.8 on a free-weighted basis.
Canterbury/Westland was the weakest region, with a reading of 46.8 on a scale where 50 marks the difference between expansion and contraction. Services sector activity in the Northern region was at 60.9 while Central rose 6.1 points to 58.7.
Otago/Southland recorded the strongest reading at 72.4, which was attributed to strong sales and new orders/business.