CFO confidence plateaus

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Confidence among Australia's Chief Financial Officers appears to have plateaued as businesses are plagued by concerns over China.

Deloitte's latest CFO Survey has found that a net 5% of CFOs in Australian businesses reported that confidence levels had increased in Q3. This sees the proportion of CFO confidence recede to 2014 levels. The result is a decline from a net 24% in Q2 and 21% in Q1.

China's economy seemed to be of particular concern for CFOs, with a net 68% saying it had hurt confidence.

“Net 68% of CFOs reported that news from China was a negative influence on optimism, the most downcast response since early 2013, when China had released its worst growth figures in nearly 15 years," Deloitte managing partner Sydney Dennis Krallis said.

“Now, growth figures have fallen below those levels, and with global growth depending heavily on China’s smooth economic transition, it’s perhaps not surprising that uncertainty has re-emerged. More than half of CFOs believe current levels are above normal or high.”

Krallis said commodity prices weighed on CFO optimism amid dwindling Chinese demand.

But there were bright spots in the numbers, with low interest rates and a change in leadership for the government sparking optimism.

"Low interest rates, a weak dollar and the change in leadership in Canberra, with the widely held perception that the new-look government is more open to tax reform and innovative policy, have all helped to temper the China impact. These local forces shouldn’t be underestimated, and we believe it will take time for their true positive potential on confidence to be realised,” Krallis said.