The trade shortfall shrank to NZ$5.80 billion ($4.4 billion) in the 12 months ended Oct. 31 from NZ$6.28 billion in September, Statistics New Zealand said today in Wellington. The October trade deficit was NZ$690 million compared with NZ$1.17 billion a year earlier.
Rising exports, which make up 30 percent of the $104 billion economy, may buoy economic growth as the central bank maintains record-high interest rates to curb domestic spending. Exports are being underpinned by record prices for milk powder and butter in world markets, and output from the country's Tui oil field.
Exports gained 26 percent from a year earlier to NZ$3.42 billion. Economists expected exports would rise 14 percent.
Sales of milk powder, butter and cheese, which make up almost one-fifth of overseas shipments, jumped 60 percent from a year earlier, the agency said. Exports of petroleum and its products surged 400 percent.
Sales of beverages, optical, measuring and medical equipment also increased. Sales of fish, meat and offal, and wool declined.
Prices of commodities that make up 70 percent of total overseas sales have been rising in global markets, led by demand for dairy products. The international price of New Zealand commodity exports rose 1.8 percent in October to a record, according to an index compiled by ANZ National.
Imports rose 5.7 percent to a record NZ$4.11 billion in October. Imports gained from a year earlier buoyed by purchases of fuel and machinery. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard has raised interest rates four times this year to a record to curb consumer spending, which may reduce demand for imported cars, computers and mobile telephones.
Purchases of vehicles, parts and accessories, and textiles rose, the statistics agency said. Imports of aircraft, inorganic chemicals and fertilizers fell.