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English Says N.Z. Economy Gaining Momentum as Optimism Spreads

New Zealand’s economy is gaining momentum as consumer and business confidence improves and wages increase, Finance Minister Bill English said.

“A number of recent indicators confirm the economy is on the right track and the future is looking brighter,” English said in a speech in Wellington today. “We are seeing momentum building towards a stronger, more stable economy.”

Business optimism neared a four-year high in the second quarter, with firms saying they were more likely to invest and hire workers, according to a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research Inc. survey published yesterday. The central bank has kept interest rates at a record low since March 2011 to help speed the recovery.

“We are on track for 2 to 3 percent annual growth over the next few years,” English said. “Interest rates are around 50-year lows and the cost of living is well under control.”

The government’s strategy is to reduce the debt that was accumulated to help the nation come through the global financial crisis and recover from earthquakes in Christchurch, he said. At the same time, it wants to rebuild the economy’s capacity to deliver more jobs and higher incomes, he said.

“We all understand there is no economic wave coming to pick us up,” English said. “We have to get paddling ourselves.”

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