RTTNews - Business confidence in New Zealand rose to its highest levels since March 2002 in July, the latest survey from the National Bank showed Wednesday.

A net 18.7% of respondents now expect general business conditions to improve over the next 12 months compared to only 5.5% in June.

Firms' own activity expectations also increased, with a net 12.6% of respondents expecting an improvement in their own business compared to a net 8.3% in the previous month.

The report said that for the first time in a decade the level of business confidence exceeded that of firms' activity expectations.

Improved confidence is an important step towards recovery, and we appear to be making that first step. But of course the feel good factor is not sufficient in itself and at some stage the substance check will be provided by what firms see in their own business, the National Bank said.

Meanwhile, other key indicators including expectations regarding investment, employment, profit showed improvements, although they still remained weak.

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