The post-lockdown rebound in economic activity appears to have run its course as businesses begin to feel the burn of a closed border.
ANZ’s latest monthly preliminary survey of business confidence shows headline confidence in the first week of August had fallen to a net negative 42.4 percent, down from 32 percent a month earlier.
Businesses’ view of their own future also dropped, by 8 points, with a net 17 percent expecting business to worsen in the year ahead.
ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said it looked like the rebound had done its dash.
“We saw a hint of that in the data last month, where we saw the second half of July was weaker then the first half. So, in that regard it was perhaps not much of a surprise to see things slip a little bit.’
Zollner said there was three prongs to the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, and the country was now at the end of the beginning.
“We’ve got the closed border and the impact on tourism and the foreign education sector and then there’s the impact of slower global growth on our goods exports and both of those things are just getting started.
“When you think about the dynamics of the year ahead you will have a pretty volatile picture.”
Many of the other forward looking indicators in the survey deteriorated over the first week of August, including investment, export and employment intentions.
However, it was not all one-way traffic.
Capacity utilisation lifted over the first week of the month to a net negative 2.8 percent from 7.8 in July.
Zollner said it was an old-fashioned concept that measured how hard a firm was running their machines or whether the number of shifts its staff were working had picked up.
“I really wouldn’t make too much of a fact that it ticked up when everything else has gone down because I think it’s really outnumbered.”