30 Nov 2021

Businesses not confident to maintain profit margins amid Covid-19 restrictions - ANZ economist

3:49 pm on 30 November 2021

Business are more downbeat about their outlook as Covid-19 restrictions dragged through November.

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Photo: 123rf

The ANZ Bank's monthly survey of sentiment also showed export intentions and investment intentions were all slightly higher from October.

Headline business confidence grew more pessimistic to a net 16.4 percent from 13.4 percent last month, but it was a slight improvement from the preliminary levels at the start of November.

The own activity outlook is at a net 15 percent, which is trending down from October's 21.7 percent.

ANZ said inflation and cost expectations remained sky high, and profit expectations have dipped amid the tough economic environment.

Its chief economist, Sharon Zollner, said the overall theme continued to be gradually easing activity indicators but cost and inflation pressures remained extreme.

"It's an uncertain time for the New Zealand economy. Covid is about to spread throughout new regions, the housing market has turned, and interest rates have risen sharply," Zollner said.

"And now the global Covid situation has taken a turn as well with the uncertain implications of the new Omicron variant.

"Costs are rising and firms aren't confident they'll be able to maintain their profit margins."

But she said there was reason for some optimism ahead.

"But in the bigger picture, demand is solid with jobs plentiful, Auckland is nearly out of lockdown, and there's a plan to reopen the border, as long as the new variant doesn't turn out to be a game changer."

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