WELLINGTON, New Zealand--New Zealand's trade balance swung into a rare surplus in July, thanks to a recovery in dairy prices, Statistics New Zealand said Thursday.
The nation's merchandise trade surplus came to 85 million New Zealand dollars (US$61.5 million) last month compared with a NZ$351 million deficit a year ago.
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Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a deficit of NZ$200 million for the month.
The largest rise in export values was in the dairy commodity group, with the value of milk powder, butter and cheese exports up 51% on year to NZ$425 million. The rise in dairy was the largest for any month since March 2014, Stats NZ said.
"July months are typically deficits," overseas trade manager Tehseen Islam said in a statement. "This is the first July surplus since 2012 ($98 million) and only the 11th July surplus since 1960," he said.
Stats NZ said imports for May totaled NZ$4.55 billion, while exports totaled NZ$4.63 billion.
New Zealand had a NZ$3.21 billion trade deficit for the 12 months to July. Economists had expected a deficit of NZ$3.5 billion.
In June, New Zealand posted a trade surplus of NZ$242 million.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 23, 2017 19:18 ET (23:18 GMT)