Business confidence is pulling back slightly, with a net 23 per cent of firms expecting general conditions to improve in the year ahead, down slightly on last month, according to an ANZ Bank survey.
The net 23 per cent positive was "healthy" relative to the historical average of plus 8 per cent, but down marginally on the 26 per cent positive last month.
"The clearest trend for business confidence remains the lack of one. Uplifts are followed by retracements," ANZ said.
A net 31 per cent of businesses are expecting a lift in activity for their own business, almost unchanged on last month.
A net 8 per cent of businesses expect to be hiring more staff - up from a net 6 per cent last month.
However, good intentions do not always come true.
"Intent" has been positive all though 2012, yet employment has declined and unemployment has risen to 7.3 per cent.
Inflation pressures remain benign the survey shows.
ANZ's Confidence Composite growth indicator - combining measures from both this survey and ANZ Consumer Confidence - is flagging 1.9 per cent annual GDP growth in the early part of the 2013.
"This looks reasonable though the past few years have taught us that business expectations and reality do not always align," ANZ said.
Official figures out earlier today showed the economy grew a weak 0.2 per cent in the September quarter.