29 Jan 2013

Cautious optimism for services sector

7:26 am on 29 January 2013

A rise in new orders is spurring expectations that the services sector will employ and invest more this year despite the pace of activity slowing.

The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performances of Services Index fell 3 points to 51.5 in December.

A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.

Chief executive of Business New Zealand Phil O'Reilly says while the result isn't great, the sector appears upbeat.

He says there are both domestic drivers for renewed business confidence and international drivers.

"That confidence is still lumpy and is still lower than you might like it to be but it's a heck of a lot better than it would have been this time last year."

BNZs senior economist Craig Ebert says there's good reason to believe employment growth will pick up speed.

Mr Egbert says the outlook is on the positive side of the ledger.

Although the GDP outlook is not strong, he says it is positive and implies some degree of jobs growth and the construction sector is picking up too which he says will generate jobs.