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Buoyancy drops back after high confidence from small businesses

After previously registering its highest level for almost two years, the FSB Small Business Index fell back slightly in the second quarter the year, suggesting a small dip in confidence ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations.

The index score stood at +15.0 in the second quarter of 2017, falling away from a score of +20.0 in the first quarter. That had marked the index’s highest level since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Despite the drop-off, small business confidence remains higher than at this stage last year. The second-quarter score of +15.0 remains ahead of the index score of just +8.5 that was recorded in the final quarter of 2016. The current score also remains significantly ahead of the dip to -2.9 felt in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the third quarter of last year.

Even though small business confidence may have dropped slightly, the outlook for exports continues to improve.

A net balance of 20 per cent of small businesses reported that the value of exports had increased over the past three months. The weak pound and an improving global economy appear to be boosting demand, helping to offset any weaknesses in the domestic economy.