Australia: Business confidence at over three-year low in February
The business confidence index produced by National Australia Bank (NAB) fell to 2.0 points in February from 3.6 points in January. The reading represented the weakest result in over three years. The index nevertheless remained above the zero-point threshold, indicating that Australian businesses are mostly optimistic regarding economic conditions.
Looking at the sector-by-sector picture, confidence remained lowest in retail, likely due to the ongoing weakness in consumer spending due to falling house prices, sluggish wage growth and a high stock of debt. Similarly, business conditions deteriorated significantly in February, as a result of worse forward orders, trading conditions and profitability. Meanwhile, employment expectations remained unchanged.