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New Zealand Business Confidence Rises to 19-Month High

New Zealand business confidence rose to a 19-month high as record-low interest rates, rising property prices, and an improving global outlook add to signs of an accelerating economic recovery.

A net 39.4 percent of companies expect the economy will improve over the next 12 months, the highest since July 2011, ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd. said in a statement released in Wellington today. The net figure subtracts pessimists from optimists.

“Businesses have more of a spring in their step,” ANZ Chief Economist Cameron Bagrie said in the statement. “We’ve seen a modest lift in consumer confidence as well. That ‘‘gives credence to the argument that rises in business sentiment may be more substance than noise this time around.’’

New Zealand’s currency rose as investors increase bets that faster economic growth may fan inflation and prompt central bank Governor Graeme Wheeler to raise interest rates this year. ANZ’s composite indicator is pointing to 2.8 percent growth by mid 2013, Bagrie said.

The currency rose to 82.78 U.S. cents at 1:26 p.m. in Wellington from 82.61 cents immediately before the report.

Nine of 16 economists surveyed last week by Bloomberg News forecast Wheeler will keep the official cash rate at a record-low 2.5 percent until next year.

The survey of 445 companies showed that 37.6 percent of firms expect their own sales and profits will improve, up from 31.4 percent in December. The survey isn’t conducted in January.

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