Businesses confidence in Scotland rebounded last month to its highest level in more than a year, new research has found.
The headline figure in the Accenture/S&P Global UK Business Outlook rebounded to 35% in February, jumping from the 14% registered in October.
The positive net balance means more manufacturing and service firms expect activity to increase over the next 12 months than not.
Stuart Chalmers, joint managing director for Accenture in Scotland, said it was “encouraging that Scottish businesses are beginning to feel more confident after what has been a hugely challenging time”.
“The research shows that rising wholesale costs and the knock-on effect of the price of goods and services remain significant concerns, but this optimism shows the resilience of Scottish businesses,” he said.
“While firms are understandably still cautious, it is also important to capitalise on this increased confidence and look to both the medium and long term with the skills of their people and their business investments.”
According to the index, Scottish companies were more confident than those in the eurozone, which recorded a 23% positive rating, but lower than the UK average of 43%.
Researchers compiling the monthly figures said increased confidence was reflected in a more positive profit expectation, which over the past year has risen from minus 4% in June to 21% last month.
And fewer businesses said they expected both supply costs and output prices to rise, but that these remained a significant concern.
The net balance of firms expecting a rise in output prices was 32%, down from the 47% in the same month last year and 40% in October.
But in bad news for job hunters north of the border, despite business activity and profit forecasts improving the number of firms predicting a rise in employment was less encouraging.
A net balance of just 9% of Scottish businesses expected to see an increase in their hiring activity which, while a small rise, is still far below the UK average of 26%.
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