Business confidence has fallen sharply as financial market turbulence and fears of slower world growth have dented sentiment.
The ANZ Bank's business survey for February shows a net 7 percent of respondents were confident about the outlook for the next 12 months compared with 23 percent in December, which had been an eight-month high.
Businesses were also less confident about their own outlook, falling to a net 24 percent optimism level from 32 percent in the previous survey.
ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said New Zealand could not avoid global volatility and local businesses were expecting lower profits, a fall in employment and a flat investment outlook.
"The finger can be pointed at the global scene. It's been a rough start to the year ... Our economy is not immune from global pressures. We are a small, commodity-dependent debtor nation."
But, Mr Bagrie said, inflation pressures remained low and the signs from the end of last year were that the economy had reasonable momentum.
Source: ANZ Business Outlook