Business Barometer - Confidence holds steady in April

30 April 2015

The Lloyds Bank Business Confidence Barometer ‘monthly snapshot’ for April 2015 shows:

  • Overall business confidence unchanged in April; slight rise in optimism about trading prospects, offset by slight fall in optimism about broader economic outlook
  • Slight rise in number of firms expecting to increase staff levels over the coming year

Business confidence held steady in April, but remains well above the long term average, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Business Confidence Barometer, which tracks firms’ views of their own prospects and the wider economic outlook.

The Barometer’s measure of overall business confidence remained unchanged at the end of April at 53 per cent, reflecting a slight improvement in firms’ views about their own business prospects and a small decline in their views of broader economic prospects.

A balance of 48 per cent of businesses said they were upbeat about their own trading, rising four percent from the previous month, while a balance of 58 per cent reported that they were still upbeat about the economic outlook – a fall of three per cent since March, but still 16 points higher than in February.

Even at this stable level, confidence, remains well above the long-term survey average of 31 per cent.

SENTIMENT IMPROVED FOR MOST FIRMS IN THE CONSUMER SERVICES SECTOR

Overall confidence increased in the consumer services sector to 52 per cent for the three months to April from 50 per cent in the three months to March. The industrial sector also saw a marginal improvement in confidence, by one point to 44 per cent, while in the business services sector the reading remained unchanged at 54 per cent.

The regional picture shows that confidence levels amongst firms in the Midlands (49 per cent) and the South (56 per cent) have registered stronger confidence over the past three months than those in the North (44 per cent).

The Barometer also shows that in the last month, the net balance of firms expecting to increase staff numbers rose two points to 38 per cent, which is above the long term average of 28 per cent since this question was first introduced to the survey in 2011.

Trevor Williams, Chief Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Business confidence remained steady over the past month, confirming that the UK economy is continuing to expand at a good pace, helped by the impact of lower oil prices and tentative signs of a eurozone recovery, despite Greece’s ongoing problems.

“The latest results suggest that the ONS’ preliminary estimate of 0.3% for quarter-on-quarter GDP growth could be revised up in due course."

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