Firms' confidence about the future rises to 13-month high

BRITISH businesses are more confident about their trading than they have been for 13 months, according to a monthly survey published today.<br /><br />The Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets Business Barometer shows that a balance of 30 per cent of businesses questioned in July expected their business activity to rise over the next year, compared to 17 per cent in June.<br /><br />The increase was driven by a slight increase in the number of companies expecting better trading and a sharp fall in the number that expected their prospects to get worse.<br /><br />&ldquo;The trend is becoming clearer. Businesses are gradually regaining confidence in their prospects for the year ahead,&rdquo; said Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets.<br /><br />However, Williams warned it is important to keep the numbers in perspective.<br /><br />Despite the improvement, firms&rsquo; views on the general economic outlook are less positive. Just 40 per cent expect an overall improvement compared to 49 per cent last month.<br /><br />&ldquo;And given the uncertainty that still hangs over the strength and shape of the recovery, such caution is wise,&rdquo; he said.