BUSINESS: confidence in the North-East received a welcome boost during June, rising 19 points to 14 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North-East report both higher confidence in their business prospects, up 15 points to 18 per cent, and higher economic optimism, which rose 23 points to nine per cent. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 14 per cent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of 19 per cent of businesses in the region now expect to hire more staff during the next year, up 24 points on last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence grew three points to 13 per cent as firms’ confidence in their own prospects grew five points to 22 per cent, while their economic optimism also grew by three points to five per cent.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Kelly Green, regional director for the North-East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see that North-East confidence has bounced back this month following last month’s dip.

“Local firms’ hiring intentions, economic optimism and overall confidence are at the highest they’ve been this year, and all sit above the national average.

“We anticipate that this upswing will see more businesses investing in their future growth. We’ve committed up to £700 million to support firms across the region, and will be by their side with our advice to help them deliver on their ambitions.”

Across the region, a net balance of 15 per cent of businesses say they feel that the UK’s exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down 10 points on a month ago.

Nationally, businesses in the West Midlands show most confidence at 25 per cent, ahead of those in London (18 per cent).

Those in the Yorkshire and Humber are the least confident, with an overall confidence of five per cent, down 18 points, and eight points below the national average.

Business confidence increased in the retail sector, up by 11 points to 22 per cent. Gains were also seen in construction, up five points to 17 per cent, and in the services sector, up five points to 12 per cent. In contrast, confidence in the manufacturing sector fell by 11 points, bringing June’s figures back in line with the low seen earlier this year.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While overall business confidence is still below the long-term average, it is encouraging to see a rise for the third time in four months since the low in February.

“Firms are showing more optimism both in their trading prospects and the overall economy, with levels rising in the retail, construction and services sectors this month. Ongoing global trade tensions, however, appear to have weighed on manufacturing confidence.”