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ANZ’s two truckometer indices fell in September, signalling the potential for weakened economic activity through the first quarter of next year.
A 5.3% fall in the heavy traffic index took the indicator to its lowest level in more than a year and contrasts the gains of the previous two months.
The figure suggests the relatively strong growth from the first half of 2012 is unlikely to continue and predicts a negative GDP improvement for the third quarter.
The light traffic index fell 2.1% after recording a 1.8% rise in August and forecasts growth will continue to be slow in early 2013.
ANZ senior economist Sharon Zollner says the fall was expected.
“Some recoil from a strong first half was inevitable,” she says. “It didn’t surprise too much in that the 2.5% growth rate was simply not going to be sustainable.”
Ms Zollner says the economy is set to lose momentum fairly quickly, mainly because of a slowing in trade and an exchange rate sitting above $US0.80.
“Both indices are suggesting the third quarter will be weaker and possibly negative.”
The truckometer uses traffic volume data published by the New Zealand Transport Agency and matches the data from selected roads to GDP growth six months later.
It is designed to predict what economic activity will be like in six months.
Heavy trucks are seen as an indicator of current activity because a large proportion of freight is moved by road in New Zealand.
Light-vehicle traffic volume, meanwhile, predicts future growth because an increasing willingness to buy and drive a car can indicate consumer confidence.
The next ANZ truckometer release will be on November 13.