New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$594 million in February, Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday.
That beat expectations for a surplus of NZ$550 million following the NZ$340 million deficit in January.
Exports were up 4.5 percent on year to NZ$4.90 billion – matching expectations and up from NZ$4.73 billion in the previous month.
The leading contributor to the rise was exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese (the largest export commodity group), up NZ$190 million (15 percent) to NZ$1.5 billion.
Milk powder rose NZ$191 million (28 percent) in value; quantity was little changed, down 0.3 percent. The average unit value rose 29 percent. Butter fell NZ$58 million (26 percent).
Crude oil exports rose NZ$57 million (282 percent) to NZ$77 million. Exports of crude oil often fluctuate from month to month. Wine exports rose NZ$19 million (13 percent) to NZ$172 million. These rises were partly offset by falls in other commodities.
Imports tumbled an annual 9.9 percent to NZ$4.3 billion – again roughly in line with forecasts and down from NZ$5.07 billion a month earlier.
Capital goods (products used to produce other goods and services) fell NZ$206 million (20 percent).
Industrial transport equipment fell NZ$161 million (50 percent), led by a fall in aircraft (down NZ$143 million). Imports of aircraft were at relatively high levels in February 2019. Machinery and plant fell NZ$45 million (6.4 percent).
Intermediate goods (products imported as inputs in the production of other goods and services) fell NZ$134 million (6.6 percent). The fall was led by processed industrial supplies (such as steel and plastics), down NZ$71 million, and crude oil (down NZ$55 million). The fall in crude oil was quantity-led as the unit price rose 20 percent.
Consumption goods fell NZ$92 million (7.4 percent), while passenger motor cars fell NZ$29 million (8.2 percent) and petrol and avgas fell NZ$22 million (25 percent).
Year to date, New Zealand had a deficit of NZ$3.26 billion versus expectations for a NZ$3.418 billion shortfall following the NZ$3.866 billion deficit in the 12 months to January.
Annual goods exports were valued at NZ$60.5 billion, while annual goods imports were valued at NZ$63.7 billion.