26 Mar 2013

Confidence falls sharply in drought-stricken regions

7:23 am on 26 March 2013

Regional confidence has fallen sharply in drought-stricken areas of the North Island.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey asks households about their expectations for their local economy over the coming year.

Confidence fell in six of the 11 regions - it even dropped slightly in Canterbury and Auckland, despite the post-earthquake rebuild in the former and rising house prices in the latter.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens says confidence has "evaporated" particularly in parts of the country with a rural backbone, such as Northland, Waikato and Gisborne/Hawke's Bay.

However Mr Stephens says the data is useful for comparing how different regions are faring but does not indicate that consumer spending will be affected.

New Zealand has a two-speed economy, he says, with Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and other parts of the North Island suffering while Auckland and Canterbury surge ahead.