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New Zealand September Business Confidence Falls, ANZ Says

New Zealand’s business confidence fell to a five-month low in September amid concerns that the European debt crisis may trigger a global slowdown, according to a survey by ANZ National Bank Ltd.

A net 30.3 percent of companies expect the economy to improve over the next 12 months, down from 34.4 percent in August, 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.

Business expectations for profits and future investment fell for a second month as companies sense sovereign-debt woes 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.

“Shifts in mood and expectations need to be watched, for such shifts can quickly accelerate,” ANZ National Bank Chief Economist Cameron Bagrie said in a statement. Still, the move doesn’t “portend of a massive swing in the key levers businesses can and sometimes do pull when conditions change,” he said.

A second measure of expectations for companies’ sales and earnings declined to 35.4 percent, compared with 43.3 percent last month, pointing to annual growth of 4.5 percent by early 2012, Bagrie said.

The survey of 474 companies showed more hiring plans and increased export intentions, ANZ said. Fewer expect to raise prices, and estimates for the annual inflation rate in one year fell to 3.23 percent from 3.45 percent in August, which was the highest level since November 2008.

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