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90% of business leaders confident of prospects

BY David Prosser

British business leaders are more confident than at any time during the recession that they will make it through the downturn, research reveals, adding to the growing optimism about the economy.

A survey from Clydesdale Bank shows that 90% of business managers now say they are confident they will make it through the recession, with a third saying they are certain they will not go under.

The research also suggests the downturn may not have had as savage an effect on some companies' business as previously thought. Clydesdale said only a third of the companies it spoke to had actually suffered a reduction in business during the downturn so far.

While economists believe the UK economy began growing again over the summer — and that the third quarter GDP figures due to be published towards the end of next month will provide official confirmation of this — there is still scope for further problems. Unemployment figures due this week are expected to show another sizeable leap in joblessness to more than 2.5 million, with most projections suggesting the numbers out of work are unlikely to begin falling before the middle of next year.

Mike Williams, a Clydesdale Bank executive, said its research suggested business leaders were becoming increasingly confident about their prospects. “These figures are promising and show that businesses are beginning to regain confidence,” he added.

“This is a positive sign: where confidence exists growth often follows.”

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