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Building consent numbers hit five-year high

The number of building consents issued in April rose across most parts of the country last month, compared to the year before, Statistics New Zealand said.

There were 1755 new houses, including apartments, consented in April 2013.

That is the highest monthly total since April 2008, when 2373 were consented, including 771 apartments.

Statistics NZ spokesman Blair Cardno said: “April was a bumper month for building consents for new houses across the country. While the numbers were higher in Canterbury and Auckland this month, compared with April 2012, the rest of the country also made a significant contribution to the increase."

Westpac said the way Easter fell this year meant the number of consents for March was probably understated and the number for April overstated. "But we estimate the underlying trend is up."

Senior economist Michael Gordon said there were two factors affecting March's figures that were predicted to turn around in April. But the 18% month-on-month increase was still bigger than the 13% increase expected.

"The first factor was that the volatile apartments component rose from a rock-bottom 16 in March to an above-average 214 in April.  The second factor was that since Good Friday fell in March this year, there was one less working day than usual in March and one more than usual in April. Our attempt to capture the Easter effect suggests underlying growth of about 1% each in March and April."

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