Confidence from Britain’s businesses surged to its highest level since 2014, a new survey shows.
A balance of 47 per cent of UK firms said they were in a confident mood, according to the poll of 300 companies by Lloyds Bank.
Optimism about the prospects for their own businesses was the main driver of a big 12 percentage point rise from March to April to overall confidence levels well beyond historical averages. A balance of 60 per cent of firms think their own prospects have improved.
The prospects for the economy have also improved, according to a balance of more than half of firms.
The UK economy surprised economists with its strength over the last quarter of 2016, although most expect official GDP figures released today to show growth slowed in the first three months of the year.
The positive glow from British businesses has gradually spread after confidence fell sharply in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum.
The closely watched purchasing managers’ index for the UK’s dominant services industry has sustained relatively high levels of expansion, although there are signs concerns over rising inflation weighing on consumer spending are starting to show through.
The balance of firms reporting they have increased prices rose steeply to reach 23 per cent, a 14-point increase.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Our latest survey shows that overall business confidence rose sharply in April, consistent with a general improvement in domestic and global economic momentum. It signals robust economic activity at the start of the second quarter.”
While the election will undoubtedly add to uncertainty in the short term, opinion poll evidence suggests it could strengthen May’s hand in negotiations if she returns with an enlarged majority.