Optimism levels among UK firms are at their highest in 15 years, a new survey has claimed.
The balance of businesses reporting high levels of confidence versus a more pessimistic outlook during the last six months stands at plus 41 per cent, Lloyds TSB claims.
According to the bank, in the half-year since January the same proportion of firms said that sales had increased.
In Lloyds TSB Corporate Market's previous business confidence survey, which has been conducted twice a year since 1992, confidence and sales barometer readings both stood at 37 per cent.
Today's survey of 1,800 British firms shows that a positive balance of 30 per cent of firms expect to unveil higher profits in the coming year, despite 87 per cent admitting they believe interest rates will be increased further from their current 5.75 per cent by the Bank of England.
"2007 is shaping up to be a great year for businesses," commented Lloyds TSB's Diana Brightmore-Armour.
"Sales hit such a high in the first half that the prospects for further growth by the end of the year are very strong and the effect this has had on business confidence is clear for all to see."
But the research also shows that the UK's export market is beginning to exhibit signs of weakness, with a balance of 12 per cent of firms reporting higher exports to non-European countries as opposed to 19 per cent in January.
Ms Brightmore-Armour suggested that the apparent decline in UK exports "are not to be dismissed", adding that the strength of the pound "starting to bite" was behind the decrease.