New Zealand: Business confidence falls further in March
The ANZ bank business outlook indicator started the year on weaker footing after recording a second consecutive drop in March, which pushed the index further down into pessimistic territory. A net 38.0% of surveyed firms reported that they expect general business conditions to deteriorate this year, up from February’s 31.0%. With more firms pessimistic in March, the headline reading consequently remained below the net-0% threshold that separates pessimism from optimism among businesses. March’s dip reflected a broad-base deterioration in expectations, which was particularly pronounced in the agricultural and retail sectors.
Meanwhile, firms’ positive outlook regarding their own activity—a metric which has a stronger correlation to GDP growth—eased again in March to a net 6.3%, after reporting a net 10.5% in February. Notably, the activity outlook for the retail sector turned negative. In addition, the outlook for the agricultural sector fell sharply and now sits on the neutral 0.0% threshold.