1 Aug 2008

Business gloom deepens

5:23 pm on 1 August 2008

The latest survey has found the gloom surrounding the business community has deepened.

The National Bank monthly survey of business confidence shows pessimists outnumber optimists in July, with a net 8% expecting their own prospects to deteriorate in the next year.

More companies expect lower profits, to invest less, and have fewer staff, which the National Bank says points to a further contraction in economic activity.

Costs continue to rise and more respondents intend putting up prices, while inflation expectations have also risen.

General business confidence fell with a net 43% of respondents expect the economy to worsen over the next year, compared with a net 39% in the previous survey.

Last week, the Reserve Bank cut the Official Cash Rate for the first time in five years. On Wednesday, Governor Alan Bollard said there was plenty of room for further rate cuts. The OCR is currently 8%.

National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie says the economy needs oxygen to revive it. ?

He thinks the Reserve Bank will keep cutting interest rates to almost 7%, before pausing to ensure inflation pressures are easing.