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Building consent drop less than expected

A drop in building consents in January wasn’t enough to reverse a trend of increasing construction activity, Statistics NZ said today.

“The trend for new dwellings has doubled since the historic low point in March 2011, but is still 28% below the peak in January 2004,” industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said.

But he  said the seasonally-adjusted drop of 8.3% in the number of new dwelling consented for in January was not enough to reverse the rises of late last year. The trend is now at its highest level since September 2007.

Excluding apartments, the seasonally adjusted number of new dwellings fell only 1.3%, following a rise of 11% in December.

Together, Auckland and Canterbury accounted for 58 percent of the new dwellings. In Auckland, 433 new dwellings were consented, while 520 new dwellings were consented in Canterbury.

Westpac economist Michael Gordon said the January drop was not as sharp as expected, “suggesting that the underlying trend in consents has genuinely picked up in recent months. We had assumed a 15% decline, which would have brought consents back in line with trend growth over the last year. Hence, today's outturn suggests there may have been a genuine lift in the pace of construction sector activity in recent months.”

A total of $930 million of building work was consented. This consisted of $642 million of residential work and $289 million of non-residential work.

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