UK economic confidence at a record low, accountants' survey warns
Confidence in the UK's economy is at an all-time low in a major survey of accountants.
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Global Economic Conditions (GEC), which is produced by a professional body, said worldwide economic confidence fell for the third quarter in a row to end 2018 at an all-time low.
Confidence in the UK was found to be at its lowest since the launch of GEC in 2009.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said: "Uncertainty over Brexit reached extreme levels and affected economic activity and confidence, with business investment now on a declining trend.
"However, despite the Brexit uncertainty, economic fundamentals are in relatively good shape, with inflation drifting down towards the target, a buoyant labour market and a revival in wage growth."
The ACCA added that all key regions covered had fallen in confidence during the last quarter, particularly the US, China and the eurozone.
Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of business insights at ACCA, said: "At the start of 2018, results for the UK showed the country's highest level of confidence since quarter one of 2017.
"However, over 2018, we've seen UK sentiment plummet to reach the end of the calendar year at its lowest point.
"The slump in confidence comes amid extremely high uncertainty over the outlook for Brexit.
"As it stands, there remains a range of possible outcomes, (and) projections for the economy are pure conjecture.
"A disorderly no-deal outcome would have the potential to trigger a recession, but even this would probably be relatively short-lived, offset by a monetary and fiscal policy response.
"Other outcomes, such as a withdrawal agreement or a delay in the process, would not derail the economy, (because of) its underlying positive momentum.
"Indeed, any reduction in uncertainty may give the economy a boost, especially from a catch-up in investment spending."