The bank surveyed 2,000 businesses and found that nearly 40% had seen profits fall in the first six months of 2003, with this trend expected to continue to the end of the year.
Consequently, three-quarters of companies are not planning on taking in new staff during the second half of 2003, while only 21% are planning on increasing their investment, compared with 31% six months ago.
‘Firms’ confidence in their ability to increase sales and orders over the second half of the year remains deflated,’ the bank said.
The biggest drop in profits was seen in the communications and transport sectors.
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