New Zealand's seasonally adjusted first-quarter wholesale trade sales slipped 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, led by a decline in machinery and equipment.
The decline follows a revised 2.3 percent gain in the fourth quarter, Statistics New Zealand said. Wholesale sales of machinery and equipment, which include consumer electronics, telecommunication equipment, professional and scientific equipment, and agricultural machinery, slid 4.8 percent in the first quarter, the agency said. (See graph below)
Wholesale trade is one of the final components of gross domestic product data, which is scheduled for release on June 19. New Zealand GDP expanded 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter, for an annual average 2.7 percent pace.
"We wouldn't read too much into this result - it's a volatile series, and follows two quarters of gains in excess of 2 percent," Westpac Banking Corp. senior economist Michael Gordon said in a note. "In terms of the GDP arithmetic, it removes some of the upside risk to our forecast of March quarter GDP growth, which was sitting at 1.1 percent prior to the whopper construction figures released last week."
Westpac will finalise its GDP forecast after tomorrow's manufacturing survey, he said.
In the latest quarter, sales of wholesale,basic materials, which include agricultural supplies and non-food products, minerals, timber and hardware supplies, showed the biggest increase, up 4.8 percent, Statistics New Zealand said.
The seasonally adjusted value of total wholesale stocks rose 1.7 percent to $9.2 billion in the three months ended March 31, the agency said.