COMMENT:

The most troubling signal from the comprehensively grim business sentiment surveys released this week is the lurch lower in investment intentions.

Both the ANZ Bank's monthly survey and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly one make it clear that neither the official cash rate cuts, nor the exhortations to invest, from the Reserve Bank have moved the dial on that crucial score. Not yet anyway.

On the contrary, the ANZ survey found a net 9 per cent of respondent firms expect to reduce investment, down from a net 4 per cent negative in the August survey.

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CUTTING BACK

SO WHAT IS BEHIND FIRMS' GROWING RELUCTANCE TO INVEST?