This morning NAB has released both its ASX 300 survey of the top listed stocks in Australia as well as the results of its SME survey.
The ASX 300 survey of business conditions printed +12 points in the March quarter against a broader survey of -1. On the confidence front things were closer with ASX 300 hitting a series high of +11 from +1 in Q4 2013. The broader survey saw confidence at +9. In the SME survey confidence fell for the first time in a year dropping back to +6 from 10 while conditions rose to +3 from 0.
What both these surveys, along with the full business survey released monthly, do is give a window into the different business conditions and confidence that Australia’s big companies have relative to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the business community throughout the economy as a whole.
Indeed the dichotomy couldn’t be more stark in the employment intentions of the bigger businesses which printed +2 against -5 for the full survey and -1 for SMEs.
It’s too early to tell if the ASX 300 survey has lead indicator qualities given the NAB has only been compiling it for three years but it would seem that if bigger business is more positive and conditions are strong with positive hiring intentions that there has to be some trickle down into the broader economy.
This might also help explain why somehow even though confidence and conditions in the SME survey are below the ASX 300 survey on a sector-by-sector basis small business looks to be outperforming their bigger rivals according to NAB’s two surveys.