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NZ business confidence lifts in Q4, backs rates on hold: survey
[WELLINGTON] New Zealand business confidence rebounded from a two-year low in the fourth quarter, with expectations of steady pace of growth and benign cost pressures pointing to rates on hold for most of this year, a private think tank said on Tuesday.
A net 23 per cent of firms surveyed expected general business conditions to improve compared with 19 per cent in the previous quarter, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion (QSBO) showed.
The NZIER said the economy had a "Goldilocks finish (to the year) not too hot, not too cold". "Business confidence has stabilised at a robust level, with a lift in optimism, activity, and hiring, while inflation pressures remain contained," NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub told a briefing.
The survey showed retailers were the most optimistic, but sentiment was patchy elsewhere. It does not include the agriculture sector, where sentiment has been hit by falling dairy and timber prices.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, a net 21 per cent of firms expected general conditions to pick up, unchanged from the previous survey.
The survey's measure of capacity utilisation was 91.9 per cent, from the previous quarter's 90.6 per cent.
Eaqub said the survey backed the view that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand could stay on hold for the rest of this year.