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'Hard Brexit' fears affecting corporate confidence in UK

By Ben Woods

Business confidence slipped back last month as sterling's collapse and the prospect of a "hard Brexit" raised alarm bells for corporate Britain.

The YouGov/Cebr UK economic index dropped three points to 109.1 in October, down from 112.4 in September.

The drop came as firms digested the likelihood of Britain exiting the single market and rising costs from higher inflation.

It said companies were also more gloomy about the outlook for the UK economy, with data showing optimism had dropped 11 percentage points to 33%, while pessimism clocked up 10 percentage points to 45%.

Scott Corfe, director at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) said the pound's sharp slump since the Brexit vote had been a mixed bag for UK businesses.

"On the upside, UK exports are more price competitive, and the YouGov/Cebr Business Confidence Index shows a solid picture for exports.

"On the downside, rising import costs are set to squeeze profit margins, and household finances are set to be squeezed by higher inflation. Overall, risks are on the downside and companies are more concerned than they were a month ago."

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