Business confidence in Scotland is at its highest rate since July despite a “challenging economy”, according to a report.
The latest Bank of Scotland business barometer showed companies reported higher confidence in their own business prospects, up eight percentage points month on month to 30%.
When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, which was up 30 percentage points to 16%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 24% of 1,200 respondents.
The survey was conducted between November 1 and 15 before the Chancellor’s autumn statement on November 17.
Businesses identified top target areas for growth including investing in their teams, evolving their offering and introducing new technology.
Some 8% of businesses expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down eight points on last month.
On a UK level, 14% of firms hope to create new jobs in the next 12 months.
Overall UK business confidence fell five points during November but remained positive at 10%.
Firms’ outlook on their future trading prospects was down two points to 25% and their optimism in the wider economy dropped four points to -2%.
Chris Lawrie, area director for Bank of Scotland, said: “It’s encouraging to see confidence among firms in Scotland reach the highest in the UK as they show their trademark resilience in the face of numerous headwinds and a challenging economy.
“As firms look to the year ahead, they’ll have a close eye on managing rising prices and keeping a close eye on working capital will help firms as they try to mitigate the effects of inflation on their operations.
“We’ll be by their side to ensure they are in the best position possible in the months ahead and they look to capitalise on opportunities for growth.”