Belfast Telegraph

NI 'is still gloomy over economy'

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland remains one of the least optimistic business regions in the UK according to a new survey.

Of the companies surveyed, 53% said they were "slightly pessimistic" about the outlook for the economy here while 5% were "very pessimistic, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report, a quarterly survey of 3,000 businesses in 40 countries.

However, the mood amongst global businesses improved over the last three months, driven by improved revenue and demand prospects.

The improvement is most apparent in the G7 economies, where business optimism rose by 28 percentage points over the past three months, climbing from -12% in Q4 2011 to 16% in Q1 2012.

The improving situation in the G7 has seen the global business optimism average rise to 19% this quarter, up from 0% at the end of 2011. Developing economies are also more optimistic: the BRIC average rose from 34% to 41%, the ASEAN average from 0% to 27% and the Latin America average from 61% to 73%.

Businesses in the UK (-15%) remain pessimistic, but have seen improvements over the last quarter (up from -35% in Q4 2011). Only in Japan and the United States have levels of business optimism recovered to where they were in Q1 2011.

Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK, said: "This increase in business optimism in mature markets aligns with what we are seeing in the UK."