UK business optimism at 20-year high

Three major business surveys out today have shown that companies of all sizes are growing in confidence over their ability to grow sales, exports and profits.

In fact, they're more optimistic this year than they've been over the last twenty, said Lloyds' external relations head Stephen Pegge to the BBC.

A survey of over 1,500 companies by Lloyds Bank showed that confidence is at its highest since January 1994, boosting investment intentions to a 19-year high.

And 2014 looks to see a continuation in falling unemployment, as businesses say they're confident about their ability to create jobs this year.

Another key survey by Deloitte has vindicated Llloyds' findings.

The Deloitte CFO survey shows chief financial officers are gearing up for expansion, investment and hiring this year.

The consultancy group says economic uncertainty is at a three-and-a-half year low, with bank borrowing seen, for the first time since the financial crisis, as the most attractive source of finance.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney (pictured) has also contributed to the upbeat outlook - 49 per cent of those surveyed say his policies have added to rising optimism.

However, 59 per cent of CFOs expect interest rate rise by mid-2015, with 23 per cent expecting a rise this year.

Also adding support to the news is research from employers' organisation EEF and bank Aldermore, which points to greatly improved confidence compared to the past two years, with firms hoping to up exports to emerging markets.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said that growing economies in Africa were becoming an increasingly important market.