Business confidence has waned for the sixth successive month, though it remains upbeat.
The ANZ Bank's monthly survey showed optimists outnumbered pessimists with a net 24 percent of firms expecting economic conditions to improve in the coming year - down from the 40 percent expecting better times ahead last month.
Expectations of profitability and investment and employment intentions also slipped.
The pace of economic growth was slowing, due to lower global dairy prices, while the housing market was cooling.
The survey showed pricing and inflation intentions had also inched lower, which ANZ said may mean the Reserve Bank's pause in raising interest rates could last a while.