Global business leaders feeling confident as they enter 2017, but Brexit woes still a bother for UK firms

 
Hayley Kirton
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New Years Eve Celebrated In New York's Times Square
Businesses are finding reasons to celebrate in the new year (Source: Getty)

Firms are feeling positive as they enter the new year, with figures out today showing optimism among global business leaders is at its highest levels since the third quarter of 2015.

The research by professional services firm Grant Thornton found that optimism among the 2,600 businesses across 37 economies it surveyed increased to 38 per cent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, up from 33 per cent in the third quarter of 2016.

UK businesses also revealed they were confident about what the new year would hold, with optimism levels rising to 26 per cent from 21 per cent. However, these figures still indicate higher rates of pessimism compared with before June's Brexit vote.

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UK firms are also much less cheerful compared with the 73 per cent figure for optimism Grant Thornton reported for the fourth quarter of 2015.

"Many UK businesses are now treating uncertainty as the only certainty, and adapting to the new norm in more prudent ways than was possibly the case earlier in the year, when Brexit and a Donald Trump presidency seemed a distant possibility," said Robert Hannah, operating chief at Grant Thornton UK. "Looking to the year ahead, we don’t know what exactly will come out of Washington, or what shape the Brexit negotiations will take, or how trade partnerships across Asia will evolve, or how elections in France and Germany might play out and their subsequent impact on the Euro.

"But for the most part, business leaders are shrugging it off, having a bit more clarity than they had three months ago during our last global survey."

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