Tourism helps boost services index. Photo by ODT.
The service sector nationally remains in healthy
expansion and the Otago-Southland region made gains during
March to become first-equal among the country's four regions,
up 5.4 points to 59.4.
The BNZ-Business New Zealand performance of services index
for March gained 5.5 points from February to reach 58.3 in
March - its highest level of activity since November 2007.
Scores above 50 reflect expansion, and below 50, contraction.
Otago-Southland's services rating mirrored its result within
last week's separate manufacturing index, where the southern
regions had been making a strong show in recent months,
albeit plagued by the New Zealand dollar's strength.
BNZ economist Doug Steel said it ''no surprise'' to see
widespread service sector gains, given that expansion in
general was not only deepening but widening. Growth was being
experienced across several sectors, including construction,
agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and retail.
The index includes tourism and hospitality and services to
business and the health sectors.
The North Island's northern region rose 1.7 points to 59.4,
following three consecutive months at the 57-point mark.
The North Island's central region dipped 0.5 points to 59.2
from February, but was still at a ''very healthy'' level of
activity, while in the South Island, the Canterbury-Westland
region recovered from a dip a month earlier and posted 58.5
for March, Mr Steel said.