Business confidence at 10-month high

The latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer shows confidence among the business community is rising, adding to signs which suggest the UK could now be set to avoid recession. 

Data from the bank’s March survey revealed a headline confidence figure of +32%; this represents an 11 percentage-point increase from the previous month and is the highest recorded level since May 2022. The growth in confidence has been driven by an improvement in firms’ assessment of trading prospects, along with greater optimism regarding the state of the broader economy. 

Commenting on the findings, the commercial bank’s Senior Economist Hann-Ju Ho said, “Business confidence has seen a surge with economic optimism and trading prospects bolstering firms. With hiring intentions improving, we may see employment growth picking up in the coming months.”  

Official data released at the end of last month also confirmed that the UK avoided recession last year, with revised fourth quarter growth figures showing the economy expanded by 0.1% in the October-to-December period. Data from the latest S&P Global/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Index suggests the economy is likely to have expanded in the first quarter of this year as well, raising hopes that the UK will not now enter recession during 2023 either.