Recovery to pick up pace - BCC
Britain's burgeoning economic recovery looks set to pick up further, according to a key business survey.
The quarterly poll of 8,000 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reports fresh evidence that the UK is growing at a solid pace and will probably strengthen further in the short term.
However, concerns remain over the ability of businesses to access finance so they can expand.
BCC director general John Longworth said: "It is a fantastic start to the new year with a very positive quarterly survey. Confidence is high and our members are resolute in their determination to take the recovery from being good to being truly great.
"Firms across the board believe they can create jobs, invest and export. But businesses have major ambitions and to be able to meet them more support must be provided.
"We must give companies the opportunity to get the finance they need to go out and trade in the world if we are to succeed in rebalancing the economy."
Official figures show gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2013, accelerating to 0.8% in the second and third quarters.
The BCC expects, on the basis of its survey results, that the fourth quarter will have seen growth of 0.9%.
It shows most key indicators for the economy over the period better than pre-recession levels in 2007.
In manufacturing, it finds domestic orders, employment and employment expectations, and confidence for turnover and profitability are at all-time highs, allaying fears that a third quarter growth spurt was only temporary.
However, domestic sales and export orders in the sector fell back, though they remained high by historical standards.
Meanwhile, manufacturers' cash flow dropped, underscoring the need to improve access to borrowing. Inflation was also a major area of concern for businesses.
Services - which have led the recovery and represent three-quarters of the economy - saw record employment as well as export readings.
David Kern, chief economist at the BCC, said: "It is clear that the UK recovery is likely to continue to strengthen in the short term.
"On the basis of these results, GDP growth in Q4 could well be around 0.9%, and higher full-year growth in 2013 and 2014 could follow."
However, he warned that risks from the eurozone could have an adverse impact on exports.