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N.Z. Business Confidence Falls to Four-Month Low, ANZ Bank Says

New Zealand business confidence fell to a four-month low in August as global financial-market turmoil threatens to damp demand for the nation’s exports, according to a survey by ANZ National Bank Ltd.

A net 34.4 percent of companies expect the economy will improve over the next 12 months, down from 47.6 percent in July, according to the survey released in Wellington today. The net figure, which subtracts the number of pessimists from the number of optimists, was the lowest since April.

Export intentions slipped to a two-year low as a credit downgrade in the U.S. and sovereign-debt concerns in Europe pose a threat to global growth and demand for New Zealand’s shipments abroad, which make up 30 percent of gross domestic product.

“New Zealand’s prospects are inextricably linked to what happens overseas,” ANZ Bank Chief Economist Cameron Bagrie said in a statement. “Given the backdrop, we are not surprised to see greater cautionary tones in business sentiment.”

A second measure of expectations for companies’ sales and earnings declined to 43.3 percent, compared with 43.7 percent in July, pointing to annual growth of 4.5 percent by early 2012, Bagrie said.

“Ultimately it is what businesses think of their own business prospects that is the more reliable indicator,” he said.

Still, the survey of 455 companies showed firms were less optimistic on the outlook for profits and fewer expect to hire more workers. Investment intentions also declined.

While fewer firms expect to raise prices, expectations for the annual inflation rate in one year from now rose to 3.45 percent, the highest level since November 2008, Bagrie said.

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