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Confidence leaps

WA’S main barometer of business sentiment has registered another leap in business confidence.

The latest results of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry-BankWest Survey of Business Expectations show the number of firms expecting a positive medium-term outlook nearly doubled during the December quarter.

It is the second positive result following five quarters of negative results.

There has been a major turnaround in business sentiment since WA bottomed in mid-1998 when 67 per cent of survey participants expected deteriorating conditions and only 4 per cent thought the economy would improve.

In the latest survey, pessimists were down to 20 per cent while those who were optimistic rose to 32 per cent.

Only 14 per cent of respondents said current conditions were poorer during the December quarter compared with September, down from 27 per cent in the previous survey.

The results also confirmed official labour force trends, recording the highest proportion of firms to have increased employee numbers since the March quarter of 1998.

Job growth seems to be strongest in the services sector among small and medium-sized businesses.

The outlook for employment growth in the March quarter 2000 is positive, indicating the highest expectations in three years.

Trading conditions, sales and exports are all up. WA exporters are particularly confident about the current quarter.

The net balance of firms undertaking capital expenditure rose to 14 per cent from the 2 per cent of last quarter – mostly in the distribution and services sectors.

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