Optimistic UK: Jabs rollout is a shot in arm for businesses

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The vaccine rollout and the easing of lockdown restrictions lifted levels of optimism by six points to 36 percent – the highest since April 2017.

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Economic confidence also rose by six points to 38 percent, offsetting the slight dip in July, the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer shows.

Nine of the 12 UK regions and nations showed a lift in confidence – the North-west top on 64 percent.

But pay growth expectations reached a three-year high, with more than a third of businesses predicting rises of at least two percent over the next 12 months.

Companies expecting wage growth of three percent or more rose five points to 17 percent, a record level since the question was first asked in 2018.

Confidence in construction, manufacturing and services was “notably” strong, despite supply disruptions and inflation fears, although retail optimism rose just two points to 34 percent, below its May peak.

Price expectations for goods and services hit their highest level since December 2017, with 44 percent of companies expecting to charge higher prices over the next year.

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking senior economist Hann-Ju Ho said the four-year high “tells a positive story about the country’s recovery”.

He added: “This confidence is driven by the continued success of the vaccine rollout, the removal of lockdown restrictions and adjustments to self-isolation rules.”

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