WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's economy grew at a brisk rate of 1.1 percent in the September quarter as people spent more on traveling, eating out and recreation.
Figures released Thursday by government agency Statistics New Zealand show the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent when comparing the September quarter with the same period last year. One of the fastest growing industries was construction, which grew by more than 2 percent during the quarter.
The figures beat predictions by most economists and gave a boost to the nation's new conservative prime minister, Bill English. English took over the top job this month from John Key, who unexpectedly resigned, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.
New Zealanders go to the polls for a general election next year.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement that over the past few years, growth in tourism and education had offset a downturn in the market for the country's key dairy exports.
"New Zealand's focus on developing a strong and open economy is delivering good results for kiwi families, especially relative to most of the rest of the developed world," Joyce said.
New Zealand's currency was little changed on the news.