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New Zealand first-quarter retail sales fell by less than half the pace reported four weeks ago after the nation’s statistics agency reviewed the spending at supermarkets and grocery stores.
Sales adjusted for inflation declined 0.6 percent in the three months through March compared with the fourth quarter, when they gained 1.6 percent, Statistics New Zealand said in Wellington today. On May 14, the agency reported first-quarter sales dropped 1.5 percent.
Today’s revisions show a smaller decline in consumer spending than previously estimated followed a surge in the second half of 2011 fueled by tourism tied to the Rugby World Cup. The drop in store purchases underscores central bank Governor Alan Bollard’s decision to keep the official cash rate at 2.5 percent since March 2011.
A change in the composition of the supermarket category sample had created “an anomalous result that was not economically representative,” the statistics agency said. It informed the central bank of the direction of the change but not the magnitude to assist with preparation of the monetary policy statement tomorrow.
New Zealand’s dollar was little changed after the report, buying 77.70 U.S. cents as of 3:32 p.m. in Wellington.
Fourteen of 16 economists surveyed last week by Bloomberg expect no change in borrowing costs until 2013. Two see a quarter-point rise in December. There is a 20 percent chance of a rate cut at Bollard’s review tomorrow, according to interest rate swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.
Supermarket and grocery store sales, which make up a quarter of the total, weakened 3.9 percent, and not the record 7.4 percent fall reported on May 14.
Core sales, which exclude vehicle dealers and fuel outlets, retreated 1.4 percent from the fourth quarter, when they rose a revised 2.2 percent. Previously, the first-quarter decline was reported as 2.5 percent.
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