There has been a marked improvement in business conditions in March, which has been driven by sharp rises in trading conditions and profitability, a survey said.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) business survey for March reported that business confidence eased a little to 9 points, after increasing solidly in each of the previous two months.

It is now more in line with business conditions that rose sharply by 11 points from -2 points to 9 points, after deteriorating following the flood-induced slowdown in January and February.

“Despite the improvement in the month, trade-exposed sectors in particular retail outside mining – in particular retail, wholesale and construction – remained subdued,” NAB said.

However, in seasonally adjusted terms, strong improvements were reported in retail at -1 points, along with manufacturing and finance/business property.

The survey also showed that business conditions were the strongest in NSW and Victoria and weakest in Queensland and South Australia.