Business outlook survey sees light at tunnel’s end

Dun & Bradstreet reports employment and investment expectations up for fourth consecutive quarter

Business outlook survey sees light at tunnel’s end
D&B reports confidence is solidifying


Federal Budget cuts might be looming but business is shrugging off when looking at the third quarter of the year.

According to Dun & Bradstreet’s Business Expectations Survey, the next financial year will start with a continuation of a more positive outlook from the business sector, with the sales index lifting for a fourth consecutive quarter.

Those making up 44 per cent of businesses are anticipating increased trade while 9 per cent expect reduced activity, taking the sales expectations index for Q3 2014 to a another 10-year high of 34.8 points, up from 4.9 points a year earlier, and 33.6 points last quarter.

And while the survey is a broad brush affair, the "transport, communications, utilities" measure is right on top of that average with 34.6 points, up from 5.4 points for the third quarter of last year.

Likely to be pleasing for eastern state-focused transport operators is that manufacturing seems to have gained  buoyancy, recording 50.89 points compared with last year’ 1.3 points, to lead the table.

Across industries confidence is resilient, with D&B finding that 64 per cent of businesses expect stronger growth this year, compared to 2013.

With healthy levels of optimism, business spending plans are also trending upwards, as 21 per cent indicate they will add staff in the quarter ahead, while nine per cent will reduce their workforce.

These responses have moved the employment index to 12.2 points, its highest level since the global financial crisis.

Additionally, D&B’s capital investment index has continued its positive trend, increasing marginally to 11.5 points for the third quarter, up from -1.5 points a year earlier.

"Following a generally positive start to 2014, it’s encouraging to see that the recent optimism and business expectations about the year ahead are being maintained through to the third quarter," Dun & Bradstreet Australia and New Zealand CEO Gareth Jones states.

"All of the measures in D&B’s Business Expectations Index are up on last year’s readings, and importantly, employment and investment expectations – which fell into negative territory late last year – have now improved for a fourth consecutive quarter."

"The further lift in the employment outlook bodes well for the rest of the economy and provides support to opinions that the unemployment rate may have peaked following last month’s surprise fall to 5.8 per cent."

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