Business confidence holds steady in April

A new study suggests that business confidence among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) held steady in April.

According to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Commercial Banking, SME confidence remained unchanged month-on-month, at 32 per cent.

However, confidence among London-based SMEs fell sharply from 55 to 43 per cent, the data reveals.

Nevertheless, commentators have been keen to point out that despite the noticeable drop in confidence among City firms, overall confidence among London businesses remains significantly higher than that of businesses in many other UK regions.

According to the research, SME confidence was strongest in April among businesses based in North West England, having risen 10 points to hit 49 per cent. Other regions, including Cambridgeshire, also enjoyed noticeable increases in confidence.

However, locations such as the East Midlands and Yorkshire both experienced month-on-month falls of four and eight points, respectively.

The news comes at a time when separate research suggests that many businesses are feeling sceptical about their short-term growth opportunities.

According to Bibby Financial Services’ latest SME Confidence Tracker, for example, 28 per cent of SMEs are shying away from exploring growth and export opportunities amid concerns that their goods and services are unsuited to international markets, while a further 40 per cent have ‘no intentions’ of exploring any such opportunities whatsoever before the end of the summer.