Business confidence has risen marginally, but firms are still worried about the effects of the eurozone debt crisis.
The latest BNZ Confidence Survey found a net 3.2% of respondents expect the economy to improve in the coming year, a slight pickup from November, when 2.2% expected the economy to worsen.
BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says confidence has remained reasonably steady since October, when worries about Europe soared.
But many respondents still mention their concerns about the debt crisis, which Mr Alexander says has the capacity to affect spending and hiring decisions over the next few months.
A recent business confidence survey by the National Bank also showed a slight pickup in sentiment, with a net 18% of firms expecting better times ahead, compared with 15% in October.