By Daniel Hunter

Business confidence is growing in the UK service sector, but the overall outlook remains mixed, the CBI said today (Monday).

Service sector firms are more optimistic than they were three months ago, according to the latest quarterly survey.

Business activity was generally better than expected and firms expect further improvement over the coming quarter.

Businesses also say that they are employing more staff and investing more in training — a trend they expect to continue over the next three months.

Investment intentions for the twelve months ahead were also firmer. But while businesses in the Business & Professional sector expects to expand over the coming year, the Consumer Services sector remains much more cautious.

The latest quarterly CBI Service Sector Survey was conducted between 26th October and 14th November. The 153 respondents come from both Business and Professional Services, including accountancy, legal and marketing firms, and Consumer Services, such as hotels, bars and restaurants, travel and leisure.

“There are encouraging signs here, particularly with employers increasing headcount and training expenditure at the fastest pace since November 2007 and investment plans for the year ahead a little better," Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Analysis said.

“Business and professional services firms are relatively bullish about the coming 12 months and confidence has rebounded sharply, following a surprise pickup in business.

“Consumer services continue to face more challenging conditions: although profits and confidence have stabilised, business volumes continued to shrink this quarter and no material improvement is expected.”

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