Business confidence surges

Data from the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer has revealed a sharp rise in confidence, boosted largely by the country’s successful vaccine rollout.

According to the survey, overall business confidence in March rose to +15%, a 13-percentage point increase from the previous month and the highest level since the pandemic began. This surge was driven by rising confidence in firms’ trading prospects and optimism about the wider economy, which the bank said reflects progress with the deployment of vaccines and increased clarity over plans to ease restrictions across the UK.

The survey also reported a return to positive territory for firms’ hiring intentions, reflecting improved business confidence and furlough extension. More than a quarter of companies said they expect to add to their workforce, while just over a fifth were anticipating reductions.

Commenting on the findings, the bank’s Senior Economist Hann-Ju Ho said, “The surge in confidence this month tells us firms are increasingly confident about economic recovery. The broadly positive outlook is driven by steady vaccine deployment, the roadmap out of lockdown and the extension of government support measures. It will be interesting to see whether the momentum for stronger business optimism is sustained in the months ahead.”

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All details are correct at the time of writing (12 April 2021)