Businesses sustain confidence in December
Business conditions remain above average while confidence is still strong, despite recent turmoil in global oil and equity markets.
The National Australia Bank's monthly index of business confidence eased back to plus three in December, from plus five in November, implying that the number of businesses with favourable outlooks outnumber those with a negative view.
And, the gauge of business conditions, which averages the range of indicators from the monthly survey, fell back to plus seven from plus 10, also showing the positives still outweigh the negatives.
'While recent big declines in oil and equity markets highlight potential risks to the global outlook, relatively positive business conditions appear to have, so far, acted to reassure business sentiment,' NAB's chief economist Alan Oster said.
However, the survey did find some loss of momentum in the retailing and construction sectors.
'Falling mining investment is still having an effect on construction, but we are also likely witnessing some loss of momentum in these industries as residential property markets start to cool,' Mr Oster said.
And the survey showed employment conditions eased back to a neutral reading.
That was at odds with the Australian Bureau of Statistics' official figures which suggest very strong jobs growth, Mr Oster said.
The weakness in employment was most pronounced in retailing and construction, in line with the weakening conditions in those sectors.
Despite the recent pullback, the survey's gauge of employment is still higher than for most of the period since early 2012.
Overall, the survey's results showed no real sign that there was any underlying weakening in the recovery in the non-mining parts of the economy, Mr Oster said.