Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are growing increasingly confident about their prospects and the wider economy, despite concerns over the health of the eurozone.
Research conducted by Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking reveals that business confidence has reached its strongest level since January 2008, fuelling hopes of a continued uplift in activity during the second half of 2013.
The firm said this reflects rising expectations for orders, sales and profits in the next six months, even if many SMBs are concerned about their ability to export to the European Union.
The survey's key Business Confidence Index tracks businesses’ views of likely sales, orders and profits for the coming six months.
It presents the overall 'balance' of opinion, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those which take the opposite view.
In the latest report, the confidence index increased by 11 points to 30 per cent, rising above the long-term average of 21 per cent for the first time since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008.
The study revealed that many businesses intend to invest in hiring and capital expenditure over the next six months, in a bid to further accelerate their growth plans.
And there are tentative signs that inflationary pressures appear to be falling, as a smaller proportion of companies are planning to increase prices.
David Oldfield, managing director for small and medium-sized enterprise and midmarket banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Businesses are clearly beginning to regain confidence about future trading prospects.
He noted that the situation appears to be improving "after years of hesitation and concern", which can only be good for Britain as a whole.
"We hope this renewed optimism will lead to growth for the UK economy," Mr Oldfield added.
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Posted by Steve Williams