Electronic transactions jump in January

The run of contradictory economic data continues, with electronic card transactions showing a jump in January.

The total value of electronic transactions rose 1% for the month, following a drop of 0.1% in December and a larger decline of 0.3% in November.

The January rise is across all retail industries and is also double the consensus market forecast of a rise of 0.5%.

The electronic cards data is used as a proxy for retail sales data and is seen as a key indicator in how the domestic economy is performing. In the core retail group - which excludes the always-volatile the value of transactions rose 1.0%, with the main contributors being apparel (up 2.1%) and consumables (up 0.5%).

Today's electronic card transactions data follows employment data released yesterday which showed an improvement in the unemployment rate (down from 6.6% to 6.3%) but lower hours worked and, in particular, a massive 20.6% drop in the retail, accommodation and food services areas.

That data though was for the December quarter, while today's release by Statistics New Zealand was for the month of January.

The December drop in employment also came off a "spike" the previous quarter, mostly in the Auckland area, which appears to have been Rugby World Cup related.

Today's more recent data - which is, because it is a record of actual transactions rather than, as with the employment data, taken from a survey - is perhaps a bit more robust.

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