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NBNZ Business Survey - February 2000

Data Flash (New Zealand)

NBNZ Business Survey - February 2000

Key Points

General business confidence has remained stable at +21% (net respondents), according to the latest National Bank business survey. The survey was taken during the first half of February.

However, companies have become slightly more optimistic about their own prospects over the year ahead, leading to a rise from +35% to +38% (net respondents).

Consistent with that optimism, which is partly driven by improved prospects for exports, investment and employment intentions have increased.

The stronger activity outlook and rising cost pressures have led to a further increase in the net share of businesses who intend to raise prices over coming months (+26.0% versus 24.4%). However, expectations for CPI inflation over the next year have fallen from 2.6% to 2.4%, possibly as a result of the low Q4 CPI result.

Commentary

The survey data is consistent with other indicators that are pointing to a favourable growth outlook over the year ahead. We expect GDP to expand by a round 4% on the back of strengthening exports. High and rising capacity utilisation will generate a corresponding increase in investment, but also pose a threat of rising inflation. Pricing intentions in this survey are consistent with the results of January's Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion and reflect rising cost pressure associated with a tightening labour market, rising energy prices and a low NZD. Our forecast is for CPI inflation to peak at 2.8% at the end of this year.

Ulf Schoefisch, Chief Economist, New Zealand

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