A couple more glimmers of hope for businesses?

The IoD (Institute of Directors) is reporting that “businesses are growing slightly less pessimistic about the economy”.

In addition, in November the manufacturing sector exceeded analyst expectations, recording a slowdown in decline.

But the IoD also said “overall sentiment remains firmly entrenched in negative territory, with optimism among business leaders rising from -25 to -21”.

Executives said the biggest problems they face are economic conditions and skills shortages. Costs of energy and taxes also remain big challenges.

On manufacturing, the S&P Global/CIPS UK PMI for November came in at 47.2 on an index where a reading above 50 represents growth.

At least things seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit at a snail’s pace.

Nevertheless, we will have to see how well small businesses fare over the festive season.

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said the research shows how “uncertain” this time of year is becoming for smaller firms.

And the small business minister, Kevin Hollinrake, has called on people to support small businesses during the festive season.

We are clearly a long way from being out of the woods yet.

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