Firms looking on bright side, survey says

Last updated 13:52 08/10/2012

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Small businesses are looking on the bright side and hiring more staff despite the uncertain economic recovery, ANZ says.

The bank's latest Business Micro Scope survey of small businesses found their hiring intentions increased slightly in the three months ending September, driven by firms with up to five staff. That was the first improvement in hiring intentions in a year.

A net 12 per cent of firms said the outlook was positive, although the larger firms surveyed were more confident than the smaller ones, ANZ said.

Businesses in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors had the most optimistic outlook.

Many larger, exporting manufacturers are struggling because of the high kiwi dollar, but ANZ said small manufacturers had the rosiest outlook.

The biggest challenges cited by respondents were low turnover, followed by increasing costs, economic uncertainty and a lack of skilled staff.

ANZ said respondents reported trading activity, investment and profitability remained subdued.

ANZ Business Banking managing director Fred Ohlsson said solid small business confidence and increased hiring expectations were encouraging in a difficult trading environment.

The survey results follow the September National Bank business outlook survey, which saw a rise in the proportion of businesses expecting their activity to increase in the next 12 months.

A net 29.3 per cent of businesses are forecasting a pick up, up 3.9 per cent on August.

While business confidence, which reflects general economic conditions, slipped 3 per cent to 17 per cent net optimism in September, sentiment among businesses in the retail, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and services sectors about their particular prospects all improved.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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