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NZ posts unexpected trade surplus

New Zealand has recorded a trade surplus for June, against expectations of a small deficit, as imports of petrol and petroleum products fell faster than exports of dairy products.

The trade surplus was $NZ414 million ($A360.16 million) in June for an annual deficit of $NZ777m, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Imports dropped 7.4 per cent to $NZ3.6 billion from the same month a year earlier, while exports fell 3.9 per cent to $NZ4.02 billion.

A Reuters survey of economists was picking a monthly deficit of $NZ100m with imports and exports both at about $NZ3.9b in June.

A 25 per cent slide in petroleum and products to $NZ545m led the decline in imports, followed by a 16 per cent fall in mechanical machinery and equipment to $NZ466m and an 11 per cent drop in electrical machinery and equipment to $NZ297m.

Exports of milk powder, butter and cheese slid 14 per cent to $NZ838m in June from the same month a year earlier, and casein and caseinates sank 20 per cent to $NZ70m.

Dairy products account for about 27 per cent of New Zealand's annual $NZ45.72b exports.

Shipments to China continued to rise, up 18 per cent to $NZ708m in June for an annual gain of 27 per cent to $NZ7.72b.

Exports to Australia, still New Zealand's biggest market, fell 5.9 per cent to $NZ781m in June, for an annual fall of 8.9 per cent of $NZ9.53b.

The US remained New Zealand's third-biggest export market, falling nine per cent to $NZ372m in June, though up 0.8 per cent to $NZ4.12b on an annual basis.

Chinese imports edged up 0.4 per cent to $NZ621m in June for an annual lift of 1.4 per cent to $NZ7.76b.

Australian imports sank 15 per cent to $NZ490m in June from a year earlier, and were down 4.6 per cent to $NZ6.91b in the year.