31 Aug 2012

Economic confidence shows tentative improvement - survey

5:38 am on 31 August 2012

The National Bank says the economy is showing tentative signs of growth in some areas, however signals are mixed from sector to sector.

The bank's monthly business confidence survey shows general sentiment has risen, with a net 20% of firms expecting business conditions to improve over the year ahead.

National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie says that compares with a net 15% in the previous month.

He says firms' own activity expectations picked up slightly, but investment and employment intentions were down and expected profitability was unchanged.

"The survey itself suggests New Zealand's on track for probably 2 - 2.5% growth 12 months out.

"It's not stellar, it's not bad, it's still what you call grumpy growth, but it's a step up from where New Zealand's been in the past couple of years".

Mr Bagrie says one sector showing signs of confidence is the construction industry.

Residential investment intentions and commercial construction intentions have improved which he says suggests there will be more construction activity 12 months down the track.

He says that will be important for the economy because there are challenges in the future, including the fact the export sector is struggling with the high currency, the agriculture sector is facing lower dairy payouts and consumers are unlikely to have spare cash.