Business confidence bounced back in September with just 38 per cent of respondents to ANZ's Business Outlook survey saying they expect conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead, compared with 50 per cent at last month's survey.
Firms' perceptions of their own activity prospects lifted four points to a net 8 per cent expecting an improvement. Investment intentions fell 4 points to a net minus 9 per cent, ANZ said.
"It is encouraging that nearly all activity indicators out of the ANZ Business Outlook survey rebounded this month, with only investment intentions deteriorating further," said ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner.
"The growth signal coming out of the survey remains weak, certainly. But if the indicators continue to rebound, it will increase the odds that while the economy may have hit a pothole, the wheels are not falling off," Zollner said in the bank's Business Outlook.
Finding skilled labour was the biggest issue, with 26 per cent of firms identifying this as their single largest problem, the bank said.
"The bounce in most activity indicators in the survey is encouraging," Zollner said.
"But the levels are still subdued, and the Reserve Bank made it clear in the August monetary policy statement that they believe the economy needs to accelerate to get inflation sustainably back to the target midpoint in an acceptable timeframe," she said.
ANZ economists expect tomorrow's official cash rate review will continue to impart the message that the next move in the rate "could be up or down", despite the stronger-than-expected June quarter GDP outturn.
Stats NZ data out this month showed GDP grew by 1.0 per cent over the June quarter - double the Reserve Bank's own forecast for that quarter.
The New Zealand dollar traded up to US66.65c, up from US66.47 just before the survey's 1 pm release.