Business confidence in the South East region fell four points during December, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in the South East region report higher confidence in their business prospects, but optimism about the economy turned to pessimism.
While a net balance said they were optimistic about the economy in November, in December a net balance said they were pessimistic.
Businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of 12% of businesses in the region are expecting to hire more staff during the next year, up five points on last month.
Across the UK, overall confidence fell as firms’ optimism about the economy dropped 10 points. Companies’ confidence in their own business prospects slipped five points.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Phil Kirk, regional director for the South East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although it’s disappointing to see the confidence of firms in the South East take a hit over the last month, this dip is firmly in line with the national trend.
“What is encouraging, however, is to see that firms are more positive about their own prospects for the year ahead which is reflected in their plans to create new jobs during 2019.
“This resilience will put firms in a strong position to make the most of the opportunities ahead which will also be to the benefit of the region’s wider economy.”