Business hopes up ahead of holidays

Business owners are more confident in the future of the British economy than they have been in the past five months, according to new research.

Lloyds Bank, which published the report, found that confident firms outweighed those that are pessimistic by a lead of 28 per cent.

Confidence in business prospects rose for the fourth consecutive month by four points to a balance of 48 per cent – the highest level since April 2017.

But SMEs’ hiring intentions dropped slightly, by five points to a balance of 23 per cent.

The overall “balance” of opinion weighs up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said despite the recent uptake in optimism, the economy is still marred by cautiousness, which may reflect in appetite for investment, wage growth, and expansion.

“Despite a slight increase in overall business confidence, firms continue to remain concerned about the outlook for the economy. The results point to the economy continuing to expand in quarter four at a similar pace to recent quarters.”

The report also found that companies with a larger turnover (£20 million and over) are more concerned about the impact of Brexit on their business prospects.