WELLINGTON: New Zealand business confidence dropped in the third quarter as the latest COVID-19 lockdown in the country hurt sentiment, a private think tank said on Tuesday (Oct 4).
A net 11 per cent of firms surveyed expected general business conditions to deteriorate, compared with a net 7.0 per cent positive reading in the previous quarter, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's (NZIER) quarterly survey of business opinion (QSBO) showed.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, 8 per cent expected business conditions to worsen, versus 9.0 per cent expecting an improvement in the previous period. The survey's measure of capacity utilisation was 96.1 per cent, from the previous quarter's 94.9 per cent.
Demand was still holding up, but the negative impact of the current COVID-19 community outbreak had affected business confidence, NZIER said in its report.
New Zealand's biggest city, Auckland, continues to be in lockdown since the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 entered the country in mid-August. Some restrictions will be eased from Wednesday.
"Uncertainty over how the latest outbreak will evolve and how much longer containment restrictions will remain in place looks to have dented confidence and led to more caution amongst businesses towards investment," the report said.
The business outlook data comes ahead of an interest rate decision by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) on Wednesday.
The central bank is widely expected to hike rates for the first time in seven years.