North East Business Confidence Rises

Business confidence rose across the North East in February to buck a national downward trend. In the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, confidence among the region’s firms increased seven points to 8%.

Companies reported higher optimism for the wider economy, at 7%, but confidence in their own prospects fell five points to 7%.

Job creation plans also increased, according to Lloyds’ findings, with a net balance of 8% of North East businesses expecting to hire more staff during the next year. Last month, the net balance was just 4%.

The overall rise in confidence and economic optimism in the North East contrasted with the national picture, which saw overall confidence fall 15 points to 4%.

Similarly, firms’ confidence in their own trading prospects fell 14 points on a national level, although at 13% it was still almost twice as positive as it was in the North East. Nationally, economic optimism plummeted 15 points to -5%.

Elsewhere, more North East firms reported feeling that Brexit is having a negative impact on their business activity expectations – a net balance of 12% in February, compared with 8% in January.

Kelly Green, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s North East regional director, said of the findings: “Along with the North East’s rise in overall confidence, it’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of businesses planning to hire new staff, a sign of optimism from local firms operating in what are difficult times for some.

“To support businesses in their plans for growth, we’ve committed to lend up to £700m to North East businesses in 2019, and we’ll be on hand to offer local firms our advice and guidance.”

The bank’s Business Barometer collects the views of 1,200 businesses to compile monthly economic trends on a national and regional level.