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Businesses in Wales take gloomy view of economy.

WALES had the lowest business confidence in the UK last month.

Overall business confidence in Wales dropped to minus 1%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

While Welsh firms' confidence in their own prospects rose by six points to 12%, when combined with their views on the economy overall confidence fell 11 points to minus 1% - the lowest in the UK.

This was reflected in hiring intentions, with a net balance of 14% of firms now expecting to hire more staff during the next year - down three points on last month.

Meanwhile, a net balance of 13% of businesses across Wales said they feel that the UK's exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, up seven points on a month ago.

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

David Beaumont, regional director for Wales at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "Uncertainty around the future of the Welsh economy is weighing on business confidence, dampening optimism across the country.

"However we have seen in the past how resilient Welsh businesses are, and with the right tools, knowledge and partners at hand, we're confident that companies across the country can prosper."

Across the UK, overall confidence climbed four points to 14% as both optimism about the economy and confidence in business prospects continued to climb from lows recorded earlier this year.

Companies' economic optimism rose to 4%, while confidence in their own business prospects climbed three points to 23%.

Meanwhile, the overall confidence of firms in manufacturing, construction and services all improved across the UK - but retail sector confidence fell.

Manufacturing and construction confidence rose for the first time in three months, increasing six points to 16% and two points to 15% respectively. Services confidence increased by five points to 12%.

Meanwhile, the retail sector - which posted the highest confidence in March - fell this month by six points, placing it on a par with the manufacturing sector at 16%.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 3, 2019
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