Rising interest rates dent business confidence

24 per cent of companies are planning to take on more workers in the next year, well down from the peak of 32 per cent in February.  Photo / Michael Craig
24 per cent of companies are planning to take on more workers in the next year, well down from the peak of 32 per cent in February. Photo / Michael Craig

New Zealand business confidence slid this month and rising interest rates have been fingered as the culprit.

The high currency, lower dairy and forestry prices and a levelling in the property market are also being cited as economic downers.

A net 43 percent of respondents in the ANZ Bank Business Outlook survey for June expect general business conditions to improve in the year ahead, down from a net 54 percent in the previous month's survey. Those expecting a better 12 months out of their own businesses fell to 46 percent from 51 percent, the lowest in nine months but still well above the long-run average.

"It's important to remember that this decline in confidence has been desired - and at least partly engineered - by the Reserve Bank," said Cameron Bagrie, chief economist at ANZ Bank New Zealand. "The level of confidence remains very high by historical standards, but is now starting to look a little more realistic."

A net 24 percent of companies are planning to take on more workers in the next year, well down from the peak of 32 percent in February but above the 10-year average of five percent.

Export intentions at a net 20 percent are their lowest in a year.

Expected profitability has now fallen for four consecutive months, but the falls are getting smaller. A net 29 percent of firms expect higher profits.

A net 52 percent of firms expect an uplift in residential construction and a net 36 percent expect a rise in commercial construction. Both are down on May.

The central bank is likely to be pleased with the inflation indicator in the survey with a net 25 percent of firms expecting to raise prices during the next year, down 3 points from May. Still, in the hot construction sector, a net 54 percent of firms expect prices to rise.

New Zealand's trade-weighted currency index hit a record high on Friday and the kiwi touched a three-year high against the greenback. The kiwi was recently at 87.63 US cents and the TWI was 81.33.

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- BusinessDesk

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