Business confidence hits a two year high as factories prosper

Tim Wallace
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BRITAIN looks likely to have escaped a double-dip recession as confidence surged in the first quarter of the year, according to survey data published yesterday.

A separate study, out today, shows the number of distressed firms fell sharply over the three months led by the manufacturing sector.

A net balance of 19 per cent of marketing executives were more optimistic about their firms’ financial prospects than they were three months ago, taking Markit’s IPA Bellwether survey to its highest level since the first quarter of 2010.

The result marks a sharp change from the final quarter of 2011 when a net balance of 12 per cent reported their firms’ financial prospects were weakening – the worst position since early 2009.

Meanwhile, research published today by Begbies Traynor shows a drop of 17 per cent in the number of distressed firms compared with the first quarter of 2011. The improvement is led by a 37 per cent fall in distressed food and beverage producers, a 73 per cent drop in print and packaging distress and a 49 per cent fall across the rest of the manufacturing sector.

“Manufacturing is the star of the economy at present and the engine that could drive a recovery,” said Begbies Traynor’ Julie Palmer. “Key manufacturing centres, including London have seen falling critical distress over the past quarter.”