Confidence hits record

Tony Alexander.
Tony Alexander.
The BNZ confidence survey has hit another record with a net 69% of the 577 respondents expecting the economy to be in better condition in a year's time than it is now, chief economist Tony Alexander says.

Releasing the survey yesterday, Mr Alexander said the December results were slightly better than a net 66% early in November and 37% a year ago.

Only 6.2% believed the economy would be worse this time next year.

''As seen last month, the construction sector is in good heart, accountants are more positive. But in residential real estate, activity levels and price pressures have pulled back as first-home buyers step away from the market following imposition of the new credit controls.''

The number of respondents, at 577, was also back to levels last seen in July.

June respondents numbered 763, the highest since at least August last year.

Among the replies from respondents in December, there was only one negative comment out of 17 from accountants, the most positive outcome for several years.

Conditions were seen as much better.

Advertising, marketing and media comments were the same as accounting and negative comments were now rare.

The agriculture and agricultural services respondents provided all positive comments with a note regarding drought worries.

Civil construction respondents were ''flat out'', and ''very positive'' comments came from construction and construction-related respondents.

The hospitality sector was positive heading into the Christmas period and tourism and travel-accommodation comments were ''quite positive''.

Residential real estate respondents reported a reduction in first-home buyers and reduced upward pressure on prices.

Sellers were moving rapidly away from using auctions.

There were still comments regarding listings being hard to find. Investors were active in the market, although not as much as before.

The sector provided nearly three pages of comment to the survey results, Mr Alexander said.

The retail and wholesale sector provided more positive comments than usual but there was still an air of caution, suggesting retailers had seen many false upturns in recent years.

A net 10.7% of the respondents felt happy house prices were rising, little changed from a net 13% feeling happy last month.

When asked whether they were considering borrowing more money for their business in the next three months, respondents showed no improving trend for their business investment plan. A gross 26% of respondents were thinking about borrowing more money, unchanged from November.

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