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Deloitte: Big business optimism at 18-month high

Jan 05
Tags: Deloitte
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Deloitte: Big business optimism at 18-month high

Despite the various challenges that emerged in 2016 and the threats businesses could face over the coming year, optimism among the UK's largest companies is at an 18-month high, according to Deloitte.

The professional services group's latest survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), covering Q4 2016, found that more than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) felt more positive about prospects for their organisations.

This compares to 16 percent in the preceding quarter and just three percent immediately after the EU membership referendum.

With less than one in four CFOs (22 percent) feeling less optimistic than three months earlier, this was the first quarter since Q2 2015 that a net balance of respondents were more optimistic than not.

This general positivity comes despite potential threats such as Britain's exit from the EU, which is still the top concern for UK CFOs. Asked to rate their concerns on a scale of 0 to 100, respondents gave Brexit a rating of 62, up from 57 in Q3.

Two in three finance bosses (66 percent) thought the UK's departure from the EU would have a negative effect on the long-term business environment, while only 14 percent anticipated a positive impact.

Other common concerns among CFOs include weak demand in the UK (55 out of 100), tighter monetary conditions in both the UK and US (53) and eurozone weakness (52).

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: "Buoyed by a backdrop of continued UK growth, CFOs have become markedly more positive on the outlook for their businesses and enter 2017 in better spirits than at any time in the last 18 months.

"However, rising optimism does not represent a return to business as usual. Uncertainty in the external environment continues to keep a lid on corporate expansion."

As far as recruitment is concerned, less than half (48 percent) of finance leaders surveyed in Q4 2016 expected hiring to slow, down significantly from 83 percent in Q2.

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Image: iStock/kovalchuk

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