The deepening European debt crisis has shaken business confidence, which fell for the first time in seven months.
National Bank's monthly survey of sentiment found those expecting the economy to improve over the next year had fallen from a net 36% to a net 27% in May.
Chief economist Cameron Bagrie says the fall is caused by growing uncertainty about the global economy, which is worrying for a country hoping for an export-led recovery.
He says export intentions are still positive, but they are sitting at a three year low.
"I think there's three basic reasons for that: the commodity price has been coming down, the global scene is a lot more fragmented so it's harder to sell the stuff and of course the currency, when we took the survey, was reasonably elevated".
Mr Bagrie says the currency has come down over the last three to four weeks, but it will be too early to see the effects of that in the latest survey.
He says hopefully next month's survey results show that the lower currency has improved export intentions.