The survey found this is consistent with a pull-back in confidence in the February monthly survey, although this was largely undone in March.
“Conditions were also softer in Q1, but this is in contrast to the monthly survey which showed an improvement late in the quarter,” the report said.
“Despite better results in the month of March, firms’ expectations in the quarterly survey for future activity generally eased.”
The NAB survey also revealed that, by component, trading and profitability were both lower, while employment was unchanged but still weak.
“The survey continues to show a patchwork economy, with much of the strength restricted to a narrow subset of industries – service sectors were the only industries to record positive business conditions,” it said.
“Despite the fall in conditions, forward orders were unchanged in the quarter, but are only indicating moderate momentum for business in the near-term.”
Other leading indicators from the survey generally softened.