Economic optimism at post-EU referendum high, survey shows

Optimism among businesses about the UK economy has reached a post-EU referendum high, according to a report. 

The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer said the net balance for economic optimism climbed by 14 points to 26% in September, as the number of firms expecting the economy to improve rose for the third consecutive month.

Overall business confidence also increased by 8 points to 24% over the period, but was still languishing below a long-term average of 32%. 

Heightened uncertainty caused confidence to slump to 6% in June when the reading was taken in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. 

The report said firms were feeling more positive about employment, with the net balance of businesses looking to bolster their workforces in the year ahead rising to a one-year high of 39%. 

But companies were casting a gloomier outlook for business activity for the coming year, as it improved from 19% to 22% in September, but remained low compared with previous months. 

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "Our September survey shows a rise in overall confidence but the latest results are mixed.

"The survey suggests the most pessimistic expectations for the economy have receded but the relative softness of business activity prospects still points to a slowdown in economic growth in the second half of the year."

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