A STRONG rebound in business confidence in the region over the past three months has been indicated by a new survey.
The latest UK Business Confidence Monitor Index from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) and Grant Thornton recovered from a low of -18.4 to +16.6.
It means confidence in the region is now at its highest level since the third quarter of 2010. The turnaround comes after a steadily worsening trend over the previous three quarters, suggesting the current recession is likely to be short-lived.
Firms in the South West reported sales volumes growing over the past year by 4.3 per cent, the strongest year-on-year increase since 2008.
Annual growth in both turnover and gross profits also improved this quarter, reaching 5.1 and 4.7 per cent respectively.
Jon Blake, South West regional director of ICAEW, said: "Although there has been a large increase in confidence there is still an air of fragility to the economy.
"Half of businesses reported customer demand being a greater challenge than 12 months ago but the optimism of businesses in the region can be a catalyst for consumer confidence ahead of this party summer."
Expectations for export growth have been strengthening steadily over the past nine months, with 4.7 per cent growth anticipated over the coming year for firms in the South West. However, export prospects remain at risk from weak economic conditions in the eurozone, the destination for 57.3 per cent of the South West's goods exports in 2011.
Source: This Is Exeter Thurs 31st May 2012
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