Business conditions improve, but remain patchy: NAB survey

Business conditions have shown signs of rebounding, although the non-mining recovery remains "uneven" according to the latest NAB monthly business survey.

The NAB survey found the jump in February's reading of business conditions more than offset a decline in January and had the index sitting above its long-term average.

While conditions rose, business confidence did not shift, but still remained in positive territory.

"The persistent strength in business conditions provides reassurance that the non-mining recovery remains resilient, despite the challenges - particularly from abroad," said NAB's chief economist Alan Oster.

"However, subdued conditions outside of construction and the major service sectors re-emphasises the uneven nature of growth."

Conditions improved in the key components of the survey - sales, profits and employment.

"The result for employment conditions was encouraging, lifting back into positive territory - although still much softer than official labour statistics suggest," Mr Oster said.

The transport and utilities sector enjoyed the strongest bounce in conditions and confidence, largely due to falling fuel prices.

In contrast, construction posted a notable decline in conditions, but still had the second highest level of confidence.

Business conditions are consistently higher than they were over 2013 and 2014. Photo: Business conditions are consistently higher than they were over 2013 and 2014. (NAB)

Mr Oster said, in trend terms, mining confidence was lowest and expected to remain weak, while construction confidence was highest - a reflection of the large residential construction pipeline.

Business conditions improved, or were unchanged, in all states other than Victoria.

"WA saw the biggest improvement, although conditions in the state remained very weak," Mr Oster said.

"Looking through the monthly volatility shows conditions remaining very elevated in New South Wales and turning strongly up in Queensland."

Forward looking indicators - such as orders and capacity utilisation - gained some momentum, suggesting stronger business activity in the near term, although they are still down on long run averages in many industries.

Source: ABC News

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