Business confidence has slipped in the National Bank's monthly survey, with a net 30% of respondents expecting the economy to improve over the next year.
That compares with a net 33% expecting better times in the previous survey.
The number of firms expecting their own prospects to improve remained flat at a net 35%, while those expecting to remain profitable, employ extra staff and invest more, also changed little.
The bank's chief economist, Cameron Bagrie, says firms' remain upbeat, but demand is not robust enough to justify higher levels of investment.
Cameron Bagrie says there is a danger firms could leave it too late to invest in their operations, threatening their ability to service a pickup in demand.