Dry weather hits New Zealand growth

Wellington, March 15, 2018 (AFP) - - New Zealand's economy expanded by a sluggish 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2017 as record summer temperatures hit agricultural output, official data released Thursday showed.

The September-December figure, lower than market expectations of 0.8 percent, brought annual growth for calendar 2017 to 2.9 percent.

Statistics New Zealand said agriculture was down 3.2 percent for the quarter, with dry weather affecting output as the nation sweltered through its hottest summer on record.

Analysts said the economy was steady but failed to gain momentum in the final three months of the year.

"Looking ahead, we expect annual growth will average around 3.0 percent again this year, although the risks lie to the downside," Capital Economics' Kate Hickie said.