Venture capital company 3i's latest quarterly survey of business confidence among companies it inves...
Venture capital company 3i's latest quarterly survey of business confidence among companies it invests in indicates that confidence in both the UK and Europe is rising.
In the UK, this is the first rise in the UK Barometer Index in the last eight surveys, as the index had previously fallen for seven successive surveys.
The increase this time recovered ground lost in the previous two surveys, but means the index remains at historically low levels.
Although confidence has clearly risen, the low figures mean the overall view remains strongly negative, and shows that those surveyed believe the economic climate has worsened over the past year but that the rate of decline has slowed.
The increase in confidence is most pronounced in those firms engaged in manufacturing. Some 3i-backed manufacturers believe now is a good time to acquire undervalued competitors before a recovery in the sector gets under way.
Non-manufacturers appear to be less confident about their own short-term sales prospects, according to the report issued by 3i on the survey's results.
For the first time in three years, less than half of 3i-backed companies expect their turnover to increase during this quarter. The European Index also rose, but like its UK counterpart remained negative overall. However, based on the past relationship between movements in the Barometer Index and and economic performance, 3i believe the survey suggests that EU GDP growth may recover in the near future.
Of the five countries surveyed, Germany was the most optimistic about prospects for the forthcoming year, while France was the least confident.
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