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Business confidence at highest level since February despite Covid-19 restrictions - economist

ANZ says business confidence has risen and is at its highest since February.

ANZ (file photo). Source: rnz.co.nz

The bank's latest Business Outlook report says activity indicators are still very low but lifted in September - despite extra Covid-19 alert level restrictions still in place for Auckland.

ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner said it showed firms were confident the latest outbreak of the virus was well under control.

"We've had a spectacular bounce back but not all the way and now we're just creeping upwards," she told Morning Report.

"We are still on most indicators well below where we were before Covid happened."

"But I think it is a pretty remarkable sign of resilience that confidence has crept higher even throughout the return of Covid to our communities."

She said people working in retail services have mostly lost their jobs, while agriculture and construction say they are keen to hire.

"Agriculture and construction are more upbeat. Construction was looking quite downbeat for a while but has had a spectacular bounce along with housing markets."

Finding skilled labour had been our biggest problem - before Covid and even now, she said. Closed borders were also holding up some infrastructure projects.

"We really need niche skills that we simply don't have here."

rnz.co.nz