New Zealand and Australian metal merchants have entered a busier period ahead of closing for the summer holidays later this month. Most are reporting steady volumes, although perhaps slightly lower than in previous years as businesses clear out their stores before a well-deserved break.
Local consumers are buying in the current climate. With an easing of freight congestion, traditional offshore markets are also becoming easier to access. Competition remains strong on the procurement side and there seems to be a renewed interest in capex investment to improve processes given the persistent difficulties with securing labour.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has increased the Official Cash Rate by 75 basis points to 4.75%, its highest level in 12 years. Owing to the steep rate increases in the recent past, many economists believe New Zealand will be in for a hard economic landing next year. On December 6, the Reserve Bank of Australia raised its Official Cash Rate yet again, by 25 basis points to 3.1%. Of the two economies, Australia certainly appears to have an improved outlook in the short term.