New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$217 million in February, Statistics New Zealand said on Monday – representing 4.9 percent of exports.
The headline figure exceeded expectations for a deficit of NZ$100 million following the downwardly revised NZ$655 million deficit in January (originally -NZ$566 million).
Exports jumped 11.0 percent to NZ$4.46 billion, shy of expectations for NZ$4.56 billion but up from the downwardly revised NZ$4.29 billion in the previous month (originally NZ$4.31 billion).
Meat and edible offal led the export rise, up NZ$85 million (13 percent) to NZ$768 million. Sheep meat (lamb and mutton) rose NZ$77 million (21 percent) in value and 3.2 percent in quantity. Beef was little changed, down 0.3 percent in value and 5.0 percent in quantity. Meat and edible offal exported in the year ended February 2018 rose 14 percent in value and 1.6 percent in quantity from the February 2017 year.
Logs, wood, and wood articles rose NZ$62 million (19 percent) to NZ$382 million. Untreated logs rose NZ$45 million (22 percent) to NZ$255 million. Logs, wood, and wood articles exported in the year ended February 2018 rose 16 percent in value and 12 percent in quantity from the February 2017 year.
Milk powder, butter, and cheese rose NZ$55 million (5.3 percent) to NZ$1.1 billion. Butter rose NZ$38 million (28 percent) in value. Quantity fell 1.9 percent. Milk powder was little changed, up 0.3 percent in value to NZ$559 million. Quantity rose 10 percent. The unit value of milk powder exports fell 9.0 percent from February 2017.
Imports advanced 4.6 percent to NZ$4.24 billion versus forecasts for NZ$4.63 billion following the upwardly revised NZ$4.94 billion a month earlier (originally NZ$4.87 billion).
Mechanical machinery and equipment rose NZ$57 million (10 percent) across a range of commodities, including harvesting machinery (up NZ$14 million).
Food residues, wastes, and fodder rose NZ$49 million, led by a rise in palm oil cake, up NZ$31 million (109 percent).
Electrical machinery and equipment (such as mobile phones) rose NZ$37 million (13 percent), while crude oil fell NZ$23 million (7.8 percent).
Vehicles parts and accessories fell NZ$109 million (18 percent) to NZ$501 million, led by a fall in motor vehicles, down NZ$126 million (33 percent).