Businesses are becoming more upbeat about the year ahead, though exporters are lagging behind with a timid level of confidence in the face of a high New Zealand dollar.
The latest ANZ Bank Business Outlook survey shows a net 26 per cent of businesses expect general business conditions to get better over the year ahead. That was up from a net 17.2 per cent last month.
A net 32 per cent of respondents expect more activity out of their own business over the coming year, up from almost 26 per cent.
Business confidence is back above "average" and sentiment improved across all sub-components.
Profit expectations, hiring plans, and investment intentions are all getting better.
A net 10 per cent of businesses expect profits to improve.
A net 6 per cent of firms expect to hire more staff, and a net 17 per cent anticipate more investment.
"All good on the face of it, although as recent lifts in the unemployment rate attest, reality does not necessarily match expectations," ANZ said.
Questions surround whether hiring will be enough to mop up new workers as they move into the job market.
"Our bugbear remains the timid level of export confidence," ANZ said.
A net 18 per cent of exporters expect an uplift. While that was better than the previous month's 14 per cent, the level remained low.
"The very high currency is clearly continuing to hurt exporters," the bank's economists said.