29 Mar 2012

Confidence lifts a little in business sector

7:48 pm on 29 March 2012

Nearly 40 percent of business executives surveyed in a bank's regular checks on confidence in the sector are looking forward to improving prospects over the next year.

The National Bank's monthly business confidence survey found that the percentage of firms optimistic about their own prospects lifted from 31% in February to 39% now.

More respondents plan to hire new staff and invest more, and the bank's chief economist, Cameron Bagrie, says the improvement is largely driven by housing and construction.

While that's not the most sustainable form of growth, it's better than none at all, he says: "At the end of 2011, the economy was very sluggish, so any pick-up from that sluggish rate is pretty welcome".