Australia: Business confidence ticks up in April
The business confidence index produced by National Australia Bank (NAB) rose almost imperceptibly to minus 0.3 points in April from March’s revised minus 0.6 points (previously reported: minus 0.4 points), which had marked the weakest result in over five years. Therefore, the index remained below the zero-point threshold, indicating that Australian businesses were mostly pessimistic regarding economic conditions going forward.
Looking at the sector-by-sector picture, confidence was lowest in the wholesale sector, and was negative also in the retail sector. This is again likely due to the ongoing weakness in consumer spending, weighed down by falling house prices, sluggish wage growth and a high stock of household debt. Meanwhile, business conditions deteriorated significantly in April, as a result of worse trading conditions and profitability. Moreover, employment expectations plunged and moved to a below average read; forward orders were stable but still in negative territory; while capacity utilization ticked up.