[WELLINGTON] New Zealand business confidence improved in February with respondents expecting to hire staff and invest more, while inflation pressures softened, an ANZ Bank survey showed on Friday.
The survey's headline measure showed a net 34.4 per cent of respondents expected the economy to improve over the year ahead, the highest since July last year, from a net 30.4 per cent in December.
A net 40.9 per cent of respondents expected their own business to grow in the next 12 months, from 37.3 per cent in December. "Sentiment remains extremely positive, with firms ready to deliver higher activity, employment and investment, consistent with the economic expansion rolling on at a hefty clip," said ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie in a statement.
Inflation expectations eased further to 1.72 per cent from 2.13 per cent in the previous survey, while the number of firms expecting to raise prices picked up slightly.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has halted its interest rate tightening cycle in the face of easing inflation pressure, and economists believe rates will remain on hold through the first quarter of 2016 or later.