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Business confidence hits post-GFC low

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AAP

2012-12-11

Australian business confidence has slumped to levels lower than at any time since the the global finance crisis.

National Australia Bank's monthly business survey, released on Tuesday, showed business confidence slumped to its lowest level since April 2009, when the country was still emerging from the GFC.

The survey found business confidence fell to an index level of minus nine, from its October level of minus one, indicating pessimists far outweighed optimists among those surveyed.

At the same time business conditions remained flat at minus five points, with an improvement in the wholesale and manufacturing sectors offset by a decline in transport and utilities.

NAB said confidence did not improve among any of the sectors surveyed and fell sharply among manufacturers.

The bank said the fall probably reflected concerns about the current state of the Australian economy, which grew by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter, according to official figures.

"The slump in confidence is likely to in part reflect businesses becoming depressed about the weak level of activity in the economy at present, while concern about the outlook for Australia's mining sector may also be playing a part," NAB said in a statement.

It said businesses may also be concerned about the global economy, particularly the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts due to apply in the US.

The survey also showed heavy falls in forward orders, which NAB said may have contributed to the fall in confidence.

The forward orders index fell to minus 11, from minus five points in October, with a deterioration in mining and manufacturing sectors offsetting improvements in construction, transport and utilities.