Business confidence drops to second lowest level since 2011

UK business confidence has dropped to the the second lowest level since 2011, finds survey research from ACCA.

The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey from ACCA and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) has suggested that business confidence has dropped in Q4 amid political and economic uncertainty.

The survey of over 4,500 finance professionals and business leaders worldwide has found that economic outlook has improved slightly in the US and China over the last quarter but that UK has confidence has dropped.

Almost half (44%) of respondents expressed concern over falling income due to government expenditure, with 43% reporting business confidence worsening. Over half of respondents (55%) saw Brexit as more of a risk than an opportunity.

Capital, employment, and investment indexes also fell, as firms are “delaying decisions” until the plans surrounding Brexit become clearer. While retail spending has remained robust, and the fall in Sterling has boosted exports, it is “likely” that economic growth will slow.

The causes for this uncertainty include government investment falling since the start of 2016, the concerns over Brexit, the upcoming European elections, and the US election and its trading with China. Additionally, the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, resigned in December 2016.

Faye Chua, head of business insights at ACCA, said: “In Europe, uncertainty over the outcome of elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany,  which could lead to major policy shifts for regional trade and the future direction of the Eurozone, all contribute to a gloomy outlook for 2017.”

Chua continued: “What our findings highlight is that 2017 could mark a new ‘Age of Uncertainty’ for the global economy. On a positive note, some of the underlying strengths of OECD and non-OECD economies suggest growth can be maintained and even improved over the next few years. However, there is no escaping that this is a challenging economic environment.”

The survey took place between 24 November and 13 December 2016 and also included more than 350 CFOs in its respondents.

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