The RBNZ’s shift to a less upbeat tone may have clipped the Kiwi’s wings, but recent economic reports indicate that the New Zealand economy is holding up pretty well. Here are some figures you need to take a look at:
Quarterly employment figures from New Zealand came in stronger than expected for Q4 2014, as the economy saw a 1.2% pickup in hiring for the period versus the projected 0.8% uptick. Apart from that, the previous quarter’s reading was upgraded to show a 0.9% gain from the initially reported 0.8% increase.
Many were surprised to see that the jobless rate jumped from 5.4% to 5.7% in Q4, but a closer look at the underlying components reveals that this was actually spurred by a significant improvement in labor force participation. As it turns out, improving job prospects encouraged more people to resume their job hunt, boosting the participation rate to a record high of 69.7%.
2. Dairy prices
Falling dairy prices has been a huge concern for New Zealand in the past year, as the economy relies mostly on its dairy exports for its trade revenues. So far, the bi-monthly dairy auctions this year have reflected higher prices and stronger demand, suggesting that the downturn in the industry might already be over.
In fact, the latest dairy auction last February 3 showed an impressive 9.4% jump in prices, with whole milk powder marking a jaw-dropping 19.2% increase. With that, Fonterra’s payouts to milk suppliers might soon be increased, which would mean higher incomes and potentially stronger spending later on.
3. Trade activity
What’s interesting to note about New Zealand’s trade balance for December was that exports still saw a healthy 0.9% increase despite weaker price pressures towards the end of last year. You see, falling inflation means that producers collect smaller revenues on their exported products, which usually translates to lower monetary values for the country’s total exports.
However, New Zealand still managed chalk up a rise to $12 billion in its seasonally adjusted value of exported goods for December, shored up by stronger demand for meat products. In fact, analysts remarked that the beef industry in New Zealand is booming, as export values and quantities have been hitting new highs. That grass-fed free-range pure Angus beef from New Zealand must be definitely worth the hype!
Given these economic figures, do you think the RBNZ might still cut interest rates this year or were officials just playing along with the other dovish central banks? Do you think they’ll move back to their hawkish stance soon and allow the Kiwi to take flight?