New Zealand wholesale trade grew at its fastest quarterly pace in two years during the second three months of the year as strong fruit exports helped underpin sales of grocery, liquor and tobacco products.
Seasonally adjusted sales rose 1.7 percent in the three months ended June 30, snapping two quarterly declines, and registering the biggest increase since June 2014, Statistics New Zealand said.
The quarterly gain was driven by a 2 percent increase in grocery, liquor and tobacco products, which account for almost a third of all wholesale trade.
"Kiwifruit export values were at an all-time high in the months of May and June," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. "It was also a good quarter for apple exporters."
Wholesale trade covers intermediary transactions between manufacturers and consumers, which feeds into the national accounts and is used by economists to predict wider economic activity.
Basic materials, which spans agricultural, mineral, metal and chemical, and timber and hardware goods and products, rose 1.1 percent, turning around two quarterly declines when the primary sector was in the doldrums following last year's slump in global dairy prices.
Since then, dairy prices have recovered, and analysts are picking another gain at the upcoming GlobalDairyTrade auction.
Sales of motor vehicles and auto parts jumped 5.3 percent, the largest move, as new vehicle sales continue to break records with a strong kiwi dollar lowering the cost of imports and cheap petrol encouraging more motorists on the roads.
Actual wholesale trade rose 4 percent in the three months ended March 31 to $23.65 billion from the same period a year earlier, with grocery, liquor and tobacco products - the biggest industry - up 6.4 percent to $7.82b, and basic materials - the second-biggest industry - down 2.5 percent to $4.65b.
Wholesale stocks built up 3.2 percent to $10.71 billion in the quarter from June 2015, led by a 12 percent gain in grocery, liquor and tobacco stocks.