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N.Z. Business Confidence Rises to Seven-Month High, ANZ Says

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand business confidence rose to a seven-month high in March as risks of a global downturn eased and amid signs of a domestic housing recovery, according to a survey by ANZ National Bank Ltd.

A net 33.8 percent of companies expect the economy will improve in the next 12 months, up from 28 percent in February, according to the survey released in Wellington today. The net figure subtracts the number of pessimists from the number of optimists.

Rising business confidence adds to the case for an economic recovery this year, even as delays in the rebuilding of earthquake-devastated Christchurch may constrain growth until 2013. ANZ forecasts gross domestic product will expand 2.4 percent this year and 3.3 percent subsequently.

“We’re moving in the right direction in terms of underlying economic improvement and growth,” Chief Economist Cameron Bagrie said in an e-mailed statement.

A second measure of expectations for companies’ own sales and earnings increased to 38.8 percent from 31.2 percent last month, today’s report showed.

Confidence was led higher by the construction industry, which rose to a 23-month high, is most likely to hire and is most positive about profits, ANZ said.

Across all 421 companies surveyed, profit expectations rose and more firms expect to hire, ANZ said. More expect to increase investment.

Slightly more companies expected to raise prices and the survey’s gauge of inflation expectations in a year’s time rose to 2.8 percent from 2.7 percent in February.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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