New Zealand recession continues with fourth-quarter slump

New Zealand recession continues with fourth-quarter slump Wellington - New Zealand's deepening recession was confirmed Friday when official figures were released showing the economy had contracted for the fourth consecutive quarter last year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was down 0.9 per cent in the December quarter, Statistics New Zealand said, with a 3.8 per cent slump in manufacturing the main contributor.

The one bright feature of the report was a 4-per-cent rise in agricultural output in the last quarter, driven by increased production of dairy products, which account for about
27 per cent of New Zealand's total export income.

Visiting officials from the International Monetary Fund this week predicted that New Zealand's economy would shrink by 2 per cent this year, with a gradual recovery over the medium term.

The GDP figures followed data Thursday showing the country's current-account deficit - the gap between what it earns from selling goods and services to the rest of the world and what it buys - reached 16 billion New Zealand dollars (9.2 billion US dollars) last year.

This was equal to 8.9 per cent of GDP, and analysts said it was one of the largest deficits in the developed world.

Economists said that consumers were buying less, companies were investing less and exports were falling, hit by the global financial crisis and widespread downturn. (dpa)

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