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Confidence rebounds for South West firms

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Adam RaineyAdam RaineyOverall confidence among South West firms surveyed between March 1 and 15 rebounded, rising six points to seven percent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the South West reported higher confidence in their business prospects at 15 percent, while economic optimism rose 12 points to zero percent. Together, these give an overall confidence reading of seven percent.

A net balance of 10 percent of businesses in the region now expect to hire more staff during the next year, up one point on last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence climbed six points to 10 percent as firms’ optimism about the economy and confidence in their own prospects bounced back from February’s lows.

Nationally, companies’ confidence in their own business prospects rose seven points to 20 percent but – as in the South West – firms are evenly split on whether they feel optimistic or pessimistic about the economy.

The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Adam Rainey, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It is encouraging to see a bounce-back in confidence among businesses in our region this month, particularly as uncertainty both domestically and globally still lingers.

“Once again, these results showcase South West firms’ resilience. We will be by the side of business to give them the support they need and have pledged to lend up to £1.5billion to businesses across the South West this year.”

Across the region, a net balance of 18 percent of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down 11 points on a month ago.

The survey was conducted with 1,200 companies, including 100 businesses in the South West.