Financial services companies in the UK say confidence and business volumes have grown for the first time in a year, according to the latest quarterly survey of the sector by the CBI and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In the March survey, confidence fell at its fastest rate since the Russian financial crisis of autumn 1998. This latest survey shows a modest improvement. Twenty four per cent of respondents said they were more confident than three months ago while 16 per cent said they were less confident. The balance of plus eight per cent is the first increase in confidence since June 2002. For the first time since June last year financial services companies reported an increase in business volumes, having expected, in March, a further fall. The balance of plus 22 per cent compares with minus 12 per cent in the March survey and expectations of minus five per cent. Volumes are expected to go on growing over the next quarter, but less rapidly. Nevertheless, business is still considered below normal, although not to the same extent as in the previous two surveys.
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