31 Jul 2017

Business confidence holds ground in July

4:24 pm on 31 July 2017

Business confidence has edged lower, but the winter chills are likely to be short-lived.

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Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

ANZ Bank's business outlook survey for July shows a net 19 percent of businesses are optimistic about the year ahead, down from 25 percent in the previous survey.

Meanwhile, businesses remain upbeat about their own outlook and plan to hire more staff and invest in their firms.

Inflation expectations remain steady, while many businesses still think it will get tougher to secure credit.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the monthly fall reflected the time of year.

"When firms are upbeat about activity, and prepared to invest and employ, that translates into solid economic momentum.

"Our confidence composite indicator is pointing to annual GDP growth in excess of 4 percent... the difficulty in finding skilled labour and sub-par productivity growth puts that out of reach... real GDP growth around 3 percent is far more feasible," he said.

Mr Bagrie said the agriculture sector is the most optimistic when business confidence, activity and profitability are taken into account.

He said that reflected the recent gains in dairy prices, along with Fonterra's higher forecast payout.

There was also a lower reading in some construction numbers.

Official figures show building permits fell a seasonally-adjusted 1 percent in June, when compared with May.

The decline was the third in four months and was driven by a fall in the number of houses and retirement village units.

On an annual basis, consents at about 30,500 are still hovering around 12-year highs.

About a third of all consents issued over the past 12 months were in Auckland.

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