Confidence among businesses in the West Midlands is at a record high, suggests new research.

The Lloyds Bank Business in Britain report also says business confidence nationally has reached its highest ever level since the survey began in 1992.

It reports that West Midlands companies have signalled their intention to boost staff numbers for the second half of 2014 suggesting the current pace of employment growth will continue.

Firms across the West Midlands also plan to increase their capital spending, the survey suggests, especially in construction and manufacturing which have seen sharp a pick up in activity and profits.

The twice yearly report, now in its 22nd year, canvasses the views of 1,500 UK businesses and tracks the overall 'balance' of opinion, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

In this latest report for the West Midlands, the confidence index has increased by four points to 54 per cent, mainly driven by increasing profits, reflecting businesses' renewed optimism for the UK economy.

Mark Cadwallader, area director for SME banking in the Midlands with Lloyds Bank Commercial, said: "This upturn in confidence is a great result for the West Midlands.

"We hope that it will lead to a further improvement in economic activity for the second half of 2014 to allow British businesses to grow and prosper."

More than half of West Midlands businesses (63 per cent) said they expected their orders to increase during the second half of 2014, compared with around one in 20 (four per cent) which anticipate a decline.

The resulting 59 per cent overall net balance represents a two point increase from January 2014.

Similarly, 63 per cent stated they thought their sales would increase in the next six months, while 11 per cent expected a drop, leading to a 52 per cent overall balance.

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