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Scottish business confidence rebounds in April - Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

Scottish business confidence rebounds in April

Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for April 2019 shows:

  • Overall confidence for firms in Scotland rose 12 points in the past month to nine per cent
  • Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects was 19 per cent, compared with 10 per cent in March

Business confidence in Scotland rose 12 points during April to nine per cent, the highest reading measured by Bank of Scotland’s Business Barometer since last November.

Companies in Scotland report higher confidence in their business prospects at 19 per cent, up nine points from March. Taken together with their greater optimism about the economy, this gives an overall confidence of nine per cent.

Scottish businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of one per cent of companies expect to hire more staff during the next year, up seven points on last month.

A net balance of 20 per cent of Scottish firms said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down eight points on a month ago.

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

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see the positive UK picture presented by April’s Business Barometer reflected in Scotland, after a dip in confidence was measured last month.

“While welcome, we will all be watching closely to see if this trend continues. We know firms continue to navigate a fast-moving macro environment and we remain by the side of Scotland’s business community as they do.

“As part of our commitment to supporting Scottish businesses, we’ve pledged to lend up to £1.6 billion to support Scottish firms this year.”

National and sector overview

Across the UK, the overall confidence of firms in manufacturing, construction and services all improved – but retail sector confidence fell.

Manufacturing and construction confidence rose for the first time in three months, increasing six points to 16 per cent and two points to 15 per cent respectively. Services confidence increased by five points to 12%.

Meanwhile, the retail sector – which posted the highest confidence in March – fell this month by six points, placing it on a par with the manufacturing sector at 16 per cent.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While business confidence remains low when viewed against the historic average, it is certainly encouraging to see an increase in overall optimism for the second month in a row.

“Firms appear more positive about both their own trading prospects and the broader economy, although their assessment of the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU remains unchanged. We will have to wait and see whether this partial rise converts into a sustained recovery.”

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