North West firms the most confident in the UK

Business confidence was up 10 points to 49% in April, according to data Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, with transport, communications and manufacturing the most optimistic sectors.

Firms in Merseyside and across the North West are now the most confident in the UK, new data shows.

While companies in the region reported lower confidence in their business prospects at 42 per cent, economic optimism rose significantly to 55%. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 49 per cent, which is 10 points above last month’s figure of 39%.

Companies’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 44% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up 14 points on last month.

Across the region, a net balance of 12% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a positive impact on their expectations for business activity, down five points on a month ago.

Nationally, overall confidence remained unchanged at 32 per cent, although firms’ confidence in their own business outlook fell five points to 31 per cent.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although confidence in their own business prospects took a slight knock, perhaps linked to a decline in positive sentiment around the potential impact of leaving the EU, North West firms’ optimism about the wider economy grew significantly during April.

“This boost has prompted more businesses to plan to recruit more staff, which is particularly encouraging for the local economy. This positive sentiment all bodes well for the region's prospects for the rest of the year, albeit firms are clearly realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.”

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