ANZ's Business Outlook Survey for March showed the New Zealand economy is "quietly losing steam", the bank said.
The bank said "headline" business confidence fell 7 points in the month and a net 38 per cent of respondents reported that they expected general business conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead.
Firms' expectations for their own activity eased 5 points to a net 6 per cent expecting a lift.
"Most activity indicators eased slightly in March, consistent with our expectation that the economy is quietly losing steam" ANZ chief economist, Sharon Zollner, said.
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Zollner said the New Zealand economy was delicately poised.
GDP growth had moderated but was still respectable, she said.
"But leading indicators such as our ANZ Business Outlook survey and the ANZ Light Traffic Index are suggesting that the New Zealand economy is running out of steam quite rapidly," she said.
Zollner said the regional story was very mixed.
"But it does appear that increased wariness on the part of firms is starting to feed through into intentions, with a growing risk that the 'hard data' is going to start to roll over more markedly," she said.
ANZ continued to expect the next move in the Reserve Bank's official cash Rate to be a cut, "with a growing risk that it is sooner rather than later".
The Reserve Bank yesterday opted to keep its official cash rate at 1.75 per cent, but said the move was likely to be a cut.