The ANZ Bank's latest survey shows 37 percent of firms expect general business conditions to deteriorate over the next year, slightly better than September's survey.
The own activity measure, which is regarded as a better economic indicator, was fractionally softer with a 7 percent optimism level.
"It's clear that business sentiment is not a tailwind for the economy at present, but we remain optimistic that the boost being provided by a strong labour market, still-high commodity prices, a fiscal boost and now a significantly lower New Zealand dollar will keep things ticking along," ANZ Chief Economist, Sharon Zollner said.
The survey showed firms slightly less negative about investing and hiring staff, although more expected a squeeze on their profits.
The agriculture sector, which covers agri-businesses but does not include farmers, was the most negative, likely reflecting the continued softness in milk prices and reduced dairy payout forecasts.
Ms Zollner said more firms expect it to be harder to get credit, while the number wanting to raise prices has risen to its highest in four years, although that was not likely to prompt any changes in interest rates from the Reserve Bank.
"We therefore continue to believe that while the impacts of higher wage growth, higher oil prices, and the weaker currency certainly mean there's no hurry, it remains the case that an eventual official cash rate cut is more likely than a hike."