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New Zealand decided to record the deepest economic downturn in record

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand is set to record its sharpest quarterly contraction and formally enter recession when it releases second-quarter economic data this week, reflecting the full impact of coronavirus blockades on business.

Pedestrians cross near a sailboat as it passes in front of Wellington Central Business District (CBD) in New Zealand, July 2, 2017. REUTERS / David Gray / Files

The average forecast of economists surveyed by Reuters showed that GDP shrank 12.8% quarter on quarter in the three months to June, after a decline of 1.6% in the previous quarter.

That would put New Zealand in its first technical recession, defined as two straight shrinking quarters, since 2010, although a easing on coronavirus curbs has helped a speedy recovery. GDP is expected to fall 13.3% year on year.

The government of Prime Minister Jacinda Arderns, which faces elections on October 17, has said there will be a sharp drop in activity in the June quarter, but that success in suppressing the virus in the country is likely to help the prospects for recovery.

New Zealand was the only country to stay free from COVID-19 for more than 100 days, largely due to a severe blockade in April and parts of May that forced almost everyone to stay home and businesses closed. .

The measures hit economic activity, but it has since returned despite a second wave of infections in its largest city, Auckland.

This has prompted some analysts to soften their gloomy forecasts, although they acknowledge that the forecasts are open to revisions as there was uncertainty about measuring data during the block.

ANZ Bank lowered its quarterly forecast to a 12% drop from 17.5%, but said the focus has shifted to the third quarter, which would bring the sharpest quarterly economic expansion ever.

Market forecasts have been clearly trending towards a smaller number of negatives in recent weeks, as data showed the economy easily pulled out of the stalemate, said Westpac Senior Economist Michael Gordon.

The central bank is expected to keep rates at its meeting on September 23 after affirming last month that the cash rate will remain at 0.25% until early 2021.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Edited by Sam Holmes

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