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CMA Survey of Business Conditions - September 02

CMA Survey of Business Conditions - September 02

The results of the Canterbury Manufacturers' Associations September Survey of Business Opinion is now available for immediate release. Full results are available on our website; CMA Business Survey

There's "nowt as queer as folk"

Confidence jumped and performance softened in our survey of Canterbury manufacturers completed in OCTOBER defying the trend of falling confidence that has dogged us during the first half of 2002. "The optimists really came out of the woodwork and the pessimists seemed to melt away. Net confidence reported in OCTOBER was +35 up from -31 in our SEPTEMBER survey." said John Walley, CEO of the Canterbury Manufacturers' Association, "The result is unequivocal, it stands at levels we have not seen for over a year, but it is hard to pick what is driving the change,"

Overall dollar sales fell for the month of SEPTEMBER by around 4% on SEPTEMBER 2001, with domestic sales down about 2% and export sales down by about 7%. "On the face of it these are soft results. However, looking deeper, we see only about 36% of companies indicating a fall in sales," said John Walley. "Compared to last month the good news seems less patchy and this may account for the apparent conflict in aggregate performance and feelings."

Staff numbers have shown a decrease of around 5% on the same period last year. In the survey completed in OCTOBER our net leading indicators - staff, investment, profitability and turnover, all improved. "Comments indicate that short term things look good, but fears still exist further into the future. Perhaps the recent sunshine has had a positive impact," said John Walley.

>From the constraint standpoint, market conditions were cited at a much lower level, down to 55% from last month at 75%, with staff constraints increased to 15%, and capacity was cited as a constraint by 30% of the respondents. Capital does not seem a constraint for our respondents, although one comment did point to capital issues holding back their business.

"Key problems added were international terrorism, consumer confidence, underlying problems of regulation and infrastructure, and rapid changes in the exchange rates," said John Walley. "Continued appreciation of the NZ$ against the A$ is beginning to hurt."

"We have said it before, the time to fix the roof is when the sun shines. Feeling good is not a substitute for economic reform. The pressing need to transform New Zealand's economy remains" said John Walley. "More R&D, more productive investment, more and better training and much less red tape for SMEs would all drive our economy faster. Time and the weather is not on our side."

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