Businesses had a lift in optimism in the last three months of last year - and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research believes that means the economy will avoid slipping into recession.
The institute's quarterly survey of business opinion shows companies reporting a lift in trading activity - although it was patchy and centred on large companies in the upper North Island.
Activity in Canterbury fell sharply because of the earthquake in September.
The NZIER says there was a particularly large rebound in retail sales volumes - although the numbers don't include a lacklustre run-up to Christmas.
Principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says business confidence moved into the positive and that is slowly filtering through into new hiring and investment.
However, he says that needs to accelerate if there is to be a sustainable recovery.