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Stronger market trends boost Aussie executives

AUSTRALIAN business confidence rose in May to its highest level in 15 months, boosted by signs of improvement in global financial markets and a rise in the national infrastructure budget.

The National Australia Bank's monthly survey, released yesterday, showed business confidence rose 12 index points but was still below zero at minus two points in May. The below-zero reading shows there were still more pessimists than optimists in the survey of more than 560 companies.

But the business confidence level was at its highest since February 2008.

"Businesses are starting to think Armageddon is not around the corner," said NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

He said the results reflected a rise in global share markets, higher commodities prices and an easing of tight credit markets.

"These stronger market trends are in line with the incoming economic data which suggest that the global economy could be about to stabilize," Oster said.

He said further stimulus from the federal budget, particularly A$22 billion (US$17 billion) had also aided confidence.

The survey was released a week after the Australian Reserve Bank unveiled a report that showed the economy was one of only a few that grew in the first quarter.


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