Wholesale trade sales rose during the December 2012 quarter, after two quarters of falls, Statistics New Zealand said today.
After adjusting for seasonal effects, total sales were up 1.9%, returning to $20.9 billion.
"Machinery and equipment and basic materials wholesaling industries comprised most of the growth in the December quarter," industry and labour statistics manager Blair Cardno said.
"Both these industries had significant increases in sales compared with the September quarter."
Westpac said the figures were "a strong result", consistent with the economy "starting to shake off its mid-2010 soft patch".
"As with yesterday's building work survey, this presents a mild upside risk to our forecast of 0.8% growth in Q4 GDP," Michael Gordon , Westpac senior economist, said in a statement.
He added the Canterbury rebuild is a key factor in the demand for machinery and equipment, after sales in this area rose 4.1% ($176 million). This includes businesses selling consumer electronics, computers and specialised products, as well as farming and construction machinery.
Basic materials wholesaling, which covers businesses selling agricultural supplies and products, as well as building supplies and raw materials, rose 3.8% or $171 million.
The trend for total wholesale trade sales remains relatively flat, after a period of strong increases between late 2009 and mid-2011.
The seasonally adjusted value of stocks rose 1.9%, to reach $9.2 billion.