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Business confidence remains low

Published: 12:37PM Tuesday July 11, 2006 Source: RNZ/TVNZ Interactive

A new survey shows levels of business confidence staying close to eight-year lows. 

In its Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research says a net 40% of respondents expect general business conditions to worsen over the next six months. 

But the institute says firms are almost as gloomy now as they were during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998, and the recession of the early 1990s. 

Firms are less pessimistic about their own prospects.

But it is the third consecutive month a negative reading has been recorded, with a net 5% of firms reporting a fall in their trading activity since March. 

Institute director, Brent Layton says the Reserve Bank is unlikely to be comfortable about indications in this survey that 36% of firms intend to increase prices in the next three months, with more than half of those surveyed experiencing across the board cost increases.

ANZ economists say the survey results are disappointing considering the sizeable fall in the currency since the start of the year.

They say the picture painted by QSBO results is one of an economy continuing to slow while inflation pressures mount.