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Business confidence has faltered due to concerns about the global economy, with the mining sector taking the brunt following falls in commodity prices.
The latest National Australia Bank (NAB) business survey released on Tuesday showed overall confidence fell five points to an index of minus two in August, while mining tumbled 14 points to an index of minus 13 points.
While business conditions did bounce in the month, rising four points to an index of plus one, it came after an extended period of weakness.
Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said the lack of a significant turnaround in activity was disappointing given the stimulus backdrop over the last few months.
"Multiple (interest) rate cuts, federal government handouts, and even tax cuts have hardly made a dent in supporting confidence," Mr Sebastian said.
NAB said business confidence continues to be hampered by an uncertain global outlook, while the significant drop among miners was correlated with the weakening commodity price outlook, particularly for iron ore.
However, it said the August survey was conducted prior to the European Central Bank's announcement of a plan to commence sovereign debt buying in an attempt to shore-up the eurozone.
A speech last week by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also implied more monetary stimulus might be on its way for the US economy.
It also came before the spot price for iron ore posted its biggest ever one-day gain, rising 6.7 per cent to $US95, on hopes of an approval of $US157 billion ($A150 billion) in Chinese infrastructure projects would resuscitate steel demand, according to Reuters News.
NAB said while rising unemployment was still a potential trigger for an end of year interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), it expects only a very modest weakening in the labour market.
"Hence we still see the RBA on hold until mid-2013. Thereafter, we see rates lifting a touch given rising mining exports, a strengthening labour market and higher inflation," it said.
Other new data indicated that there was little immediate pressure on inflation from wages growth.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations data released on Tuesday showed the average annualised wage increase through collective bargaining agreements was 3.7 per cent in the June quarter, down from 4.4 per cent in the previous quarter.
This was bang in line with the RBA's preferred measure of wages growth in the June quarter - the wage price index - and well below the 4.5 per cent level normally considered a threat to the inflation outlook.
Almost 2200 agreements covering an estimated 257,200 employees were made in the June quarter under the Fair Work Act.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said new enterprise agreements were delivering sustainable wages and improved productivity and helping businesses to be competitive.
"This shows the Fair Work enterprise bargaining system is flexible and delivers sustainable and appropriate wage outcomes," Mr Shorten said in a statement.
Agreements also continue to include a range of provisions with more than 48 per cent discussing a commitment to improve productivity, he said.
Based on information provided by and with the permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (2013) trading as Landgate.