Businesses in the region are confident of a better start to 2013

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Businesses in the region are confident of a stronger start to 2013 but they remain cautious about investment and recruiting staff, a survey says.

Firms in the East of England anticipate improved sales and stronger profits, despite slow overall growth in the UK.

Exports to Europe should bounce back in 2013 following policy changes, the Lloyds TSB Commercial Business in Britain survey said.

Optimism is at its strongest since the economy came out of the initial recession in 2009, the report said.

Gareth Oakley, director for Lloyds TSB commercial in the East, said: “Businesses have managed to work through the tough economic headwinds of the last couple of years and have a rather more positive outlook for 2013.

“Businesses are clearly feeling more optimistic about Europe and, after a poor 2012, we should see more demand and orders coming through from the continent.”

But Trevor Williams, chief economist for Lloyds said: “One area of continued concern is weak UK demand.

“A lot of UK companies are sitting on cash rather than investing, but for the economic recovery to become enduring, that money will have to start being spent.”

– The survey results at a glance.

The survey canvassed views of 1,800 UK businesses.

- 37 per cent in the East expect order books to increase compared to 12 per cent who fear a fall.

- 45 per cent think sales will increase over the next six months compared to 19 per cent who anticipate a decline.

- 71 per cent expect no change to staffing levels in the first six months, while 14 per cent hope for an increase and 11 per cent say they may have to make cuts.