UK firms aim to create new jobs with confidence at its highest level for 22 years thanks to rising orders and sales, a survey has said.
The twice-yearly Business in Britain report, released by Lloyds Bank, said optimism has improved in all regions, particularly the North-East, South-West and Yorkshire and East Midlands.
It added companies intend to increase staff numbers for the second half of the year as capital spending rises in construction and manufacturing.
The survey canvasses 1,500 UK businesses, tracking the overall balance of opinion.
Since the last report in January 2014, the confidence index has increased by eight points to 53 per cent, which was the fifth consecutive increase, surpassing the previous survey high of 46 per cent in January 1994.
Tim Hinton, Lloyds' managing director of SME and mid-markets banking, said: "This upturn in confidence marks an all-time survey high.
"We hope that it will lead to a further improvement in economic activity for the second half of 2014 to allow UK businesses to grow and prosper."