“China’s downturn, the prospect of rising interest rates and uncertainty about the global economic outlook have knocked confidence among bosses of the UK’s biggest companies, according to a survey.
Chief financial officers (CFOs) polled by the consultancy Deloitte reported a sharp rise in uncertainty facing their businesses and have scaled back their expectations for investment and hiring over the coming year.
Almost three-quarters of the 122 CFOs, or 73%, said the level of financial and economic uncertainty was either above normal, high or very high. That was up from 55% in the second quarter of this year and is the highest proportion for more than two years.
… sentiment among large businesses is changeable and heavily influenced by the global environment, especially by news flow and the performance of equity markets. In both areas, good news has been in short supply of late: UK equities down 16% from their April peaks; US institutional investor optimism at 2009 levels; financial market volatility up sharply and more downgrades to emerging market growth forecasts.
Asked to rate the factors that pose threats to their business, CFOs attached the greatest importance to the prospect of higher interest rates, weakness in emerging markets and geopolitical risks, and deflation and economic weakness in the eurozone.
But they appeared less concerned about domestic demand and political risks, with worries receding over the UK’s referendum on EU membership and the country’s poor productivity record. Ahead of a spending review by the chancellor, George Osborne, at the end of November, worries about UK spending cuts edged up.
However, the article paints a different picture for smaller businesses with less exposure to the global economy …
A separate survey of entrepreneurs and small business owners painted a rosier picture after a strong year, and reported that the majority are planning for “even brighter times ahead”. A report by EY said many were anticipating substantial increases in profits and employment growth.
Profits increase for 76% of respondents and 39% created more than 20 new jobs. Over the next three years, 90% of the UK’s entrepreneurs expect their profits to grow, with 53% forecasting that growth will top 10%.
Entrepreneurs in the technology sector (59%) and those with businesses in the south-east and south-west (67%) are among the most optimistic.
(Only percentages are given, there’s no reference to the EY survey reported and so absolute numbers are probably miniscule. It’s difficult to see how the “more than 20 new jobs” created by 39% failed to make any impact nationally.)