The manufacturing and exporting sector is showing signs of strengthening with both sales and employment picking up in May, an industry group survey shows.
The Manufacturers and Exporters Association's latest survey of business conditions found sales rose almost 10% in the year to May. Domestic sales increased 10% and export sales 9%.
Confidence also rose slightly, with the number of optimists now equal to the number of pessimists.
The employment level rose for the first time since November 2008, edging up 3%.
Association chief executive John Walley says it's the most positive survey since the start of the global financial crisis, but warns the recovery is patchy and far from bedded in.
The survey covered sales worth $374 million with an export content of 41%.