30 Nov 2023

Business confidence rises to its highest level in nearly nine years

3:06 pm on 30 November 2023
woman walking with shopping bags with christmas background.

Retail, services and construction were the most upbeat sectors. Photo: 123RF

Business confidence has risen to its highest level in nearly nine years as the economy heads for a soft landing and firms look towards possible policy changes from the new government.

ANZ's October monthly survey showed a net 31 percent of respondents expected the overall economy to improve over the next 12 months, the highest number since March 2015

A net 26 percent said their own business outlook was positive, a two-year high.

Senior economist Miles Workman said the survey backed the view the economy would be soft for a while but would escape the worst of downturns.

"The question of whether the slowdown will be sufficient to bring inflation all the way back to target in an acceptable timeframe remains an open question."

He said the indicators about firms intending to raise prices or being affected by higher costs suggested the slowing of inflation had stalled.

"Overall, the headline inflation indicator suite continues its trek down the mountain, but there's still a long way to go and pricing intentions have stopped for lunch."

Retail, services and construction were the most upbeat sectors, while agriculture-related businesses were the least optimistic, but off their pre-election negative lows.

"(That's) possibly related to the now-confirmed agriculture-related policy changes associated with the change in government," Workman said.

He said the survey did not give too much support for interest rate cuts any time soon.

"Markets are itching to price in imminent cuts to the Official Cash Rate, but with some inflation indicators threatening to stall, and activity indicators generally far from recessionary levels, it seems likely to be some time before the Reserve Bank is seeing the world the same way."

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