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Global business confidence at record high but Brexit weighs heavily on British companies

Global business confidence at record high but Brexit weighs heavily on British companies

LONDON: Global business optimism is at a record high, according to a survey by accountancy firm Grant Thornton, but sentiment among UK companies has fallen in the last year as uncertainty over Brexit continues to weigh heavily on corporate confidence.

Its quarterly International Business Report found that optimism among firms around the world is at the highest level since it was started 25 years ago. This good mood is reflected in the widespread expectation that profitability will increase in the next 12 months.

It also suggested greater levels of confidence as the proportion of firms which said they would raise the prices of their products was at the highest rate in nearly three years.By contrast, the survey found that optimism among British companies has slumped in the last year. Its measure of the net balance of optimism – the proportion of positive attitudes minus that of negative beliefs – was at 12pc in the fourth quarter of last year, which is 61 percentage points lower than the same period in 2015, before the EU referendum.

The survey has recorded that optimism among British companies has been falling steadily since the months before the vote, although it was up slightly in the last quarter.

Robert Hannah, chief operating officer of Grant Thornton, said: “UK businesses have effectively been kept in a holding pattern since the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, with very few details over Brexit negotiations causing significant uncertainty since. However, the past few weeks have given businesses a degree of clarity over the process and we should see this start to be reflected in optimism figures over the coming months.”