Confidence rises in UK after election

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    LONDON- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s emphatic election win last month has led to a burst of optimism among British businesses and consumers, according to some early signals from the economy.

    Johnson’s success in securing a large parliamentary majority, which ended a period of deadlock in Westminster, means Britain is on course to leave the European Union on Jan. 31 and start an 11-month, no-change transition period.

    It also ended the prospect of a shift to the left in British politics. The opposition Labor Party had proposed nationalizing key industries, taking stakes in many other companies and more state intervention.

    However, some economists are sceptical about whether the pickup in confidence will translate into a meaningful boost to growth, which has lost momentum since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and slowed to a crawl in late 2019.

    Some businesses worry that Johnson’s refusal to contemplate asking for an extension to the Brexit transition period – even if Britain has not sealed a new trade deal with the EU before the end of 2020 – risks creating another “cliff edge.”

    Below are some of the early signals that show an improvement in optimism after the Dec. 12 election.

    Accountants Deloitte said on Friday that 53 percent of chief financial officers were more optimistic about their companies’ prospects than three months previously, the highest share since records started in 2008.

    The Deloitte survey was conducted entirely after the election and chimed with the business expectations component of the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a closely watched gauge of British business – which hit its highest level in December since September 2018.

    The PMI was up markedly from a preliminary reading for the month that was based only on responses before the election, indicating a clear improvement in sentiment after the vote. — Reuters