29 May 2019

Business confidence rises, but still low - ANZ

3:48 pm on 29 May 2019

Business confidence has improved slightly but generally remains deeply pessimistic, although firms are slightly more upbeat about their prospects.

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Photo: ANZ Research

The ANZ Business Outlook for May showed a net 32 percent of businesses expect conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead, an improvement from 37.5 percent level last month.

Individual businesses are a touch more positive about their own outlook lifting to 8.5 percent optimism, a point higher than in April.

"Most ... activity indicators were little changed in May, at levels consistent with the slower growth the economy is experiencing," chief economist Sharon Zollner said.

She said the main concern was a sharp fall in residential building intentions to their weakest level in a decade, and a growing number of firms planning to cut jobs.

"New Zealand needs more houses, but the construction sector is facing cash-flow and credit constraints."

Among the survey's other indicators, fewer firms expected their profits to fall, but plans to hire staff turned marginally negative, and more businesses were feeling the pressure of higher costs and were planning to raise their prices.

Ms Zollner said a lower currency and interest rates would likely help activity to pick up in due course, assuming the global economic and trade outlook did not worsen.

"But how quickly the economy will bounce back is a key question. If the forward indicators start to suggest that the Reserve Bank's relatively sharp V-shaped recovery is overly optimistic, it will be game on for further OCR (official cash rate) cuts this year."

Read the full ANZ Business Outlook for May:

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