Business confidence in Scotland has fallen as firms north of the Border continue to feel gloomier than those in other parts of the UK.
The latest Bank of Scotland business monitor report shows confidence levels dipped three points during November to give an overall reading of -6%, the lowest in the UK.
As well as Scottish companies feeling less confident in their own business prospects, they also felt more pessimistic about the wider economy.
Despite this, businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of 7% of businesses in Scotland expect to hire more staff during the next year, up three points on last month.
Across the UK, overall confidence rose three points to 9% as firms’ optimism about the economy rose 10 points to 7%, although their confidence in their own prospects dropped three points to 12%.
The report compiled by Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking questions 1,200 businesses monthly to provide early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “Unpredictability is a factor we’re all facing as we navigate through the current political climate.” Sime said it was hoped greater clarity and higher levels of confidence would return next year.
Across Scotland, a net balance of 29% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, up five points on a month ago.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, welcomed the increase in confidence that the overall UK figure showed.
“The third consecutive increase in overall business confidence is positive for the UK as economic optimism reaches the highest level since January.
“While concerns about the impact of the UK leaving the EU continued to ease slightly, hiring intentions remain broadly stable and it will be interesting to see how this trend continues towards the end of 2019 and into the start of next year.”