Business confidence in Wales rose four points during July to 16 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in Wales reported lower confidence in their business prospects, which fell 12 points to 11 per cent, but higher economic optimism, which rose 19 points to 20 per cent. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 16 per cent.
Businesses’ hiring intentions showed a net balance of 10 per cent of businesses in Wales expected to hire more staff during the next year, down 17 points on last month.
[/aoa]Across the UK, overall confidence stood steady at 13 per cent as firms’ confidence in their own prospects slipped three points to 19 per cent, while their economic optimism remained at five per cent.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
David Beaumont, regional director for Wales at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s pleasing to see that overall business confidence remains above the national average and has risen seven points since January.
“While optimistic about the economy, businesses are clearly concerned about their own prospects for the year ahead, with confidence falling for the second month in a row.
“If firms are going to continue to invest to drive growth, then having the right support is essential. That is why we’ve pledged £1.1billion for firms across the country as part of our plan to help Wales prosper.”
Across Wales, a net balance of 11 per cent of businesses said they felt the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down nine points on a month ago.
Elsewhere in the UK
Businesses in the South West were the most confident, at 29 per cent, ahead of the East Midlands (26 per cent) and West Midlands (19 per cent).
Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of zero per cent, 13 points below the national average.
Manufacturing was the most upbeat sector, with overall confidence rising nine points to 19 per cent and overtaking retail, which fell five points to 17 per cent. Overall confidence among services businesses was unchanged at 12 per cent, but construction dropped 11 points to six, the sector’s lowest reading in more than 18 months.
Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It is promising to see national confidence levels continuing to beat the dip seen in February despite business confidence remaining below the long-term average and overall business confidence remaining unchanged this month.
“Coupled with this, employment expectations still remain largely unchanged from last month, with only one-third of firms planning to increase their staff levels, compared with more than 40 per cent of firms last year, suggesting cautious business behaviour in the current economic environment.”