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Business confidence brittle as fears mount over economy and trade

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Confidence among Britain’s businesses appears brittle as fears about trade and economic growth have escalated in a trio of surveys.

Brexit has been identified as the biggest concern among those in control of company finances and is likely to lead to more subdued spending by businesses, according to a Deloitte survey.

A total of 112 chief financial officers, including 83 at major listed companies, told Deloitte in its latest survey that Brexit was their most prominent concern, rating it at 62 out of 100 in the final quarter of 2017 – up from 58 in the prior quarter.

What is more, nearly three quarters (73pc) said they expected the overall business environment to worsen following Brexit, up from 60pc in the third quarter.

This prompted 39pc (up from 30pc) to claim they expected the amount they spent on investing in their businesses to drop. Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said CFOs were “more focused on controlling costs than at any time in the past eight years”. 

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