Activity in the services sector expanded in December, despite consumers curbing their spending.
The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Services Index rose less than one point to 52.5 in the month.
A reading above 50 indicates the sector is generally expanding. The index is at the same level as in December 2009.
BNZ economist Doug Steel says the sector is improving slowly, and new orders and activity are picking up, suggesting 2011 will be a better year for the sector.
He said rebuilding after the Canterbury earthquake, the Rugby World Cup and higher commodity prices will provide a boost.
For the calender year, the Performance of Services Index shows activity expanded in every month of 2010, compared with just five months of growth in 2009.
The index average for 2010 was the highest since 2007.