Some 60 per cent of firms in the South expect sales to increase over the next three months compared with 53 per cent in the Midlands and 49 per cent in the North.
Manufacturing firms are now more confident than they were in July, but the non-manufacturing sector is less optimistic.
Ewen Macpherson, 3i chief executive, said: 'Enhanced confidence in the South is reassuring, given the damage done there by the recession.
A gloomier view came from the Institute of Management, which said that three out of four managers did not believe the recession was over. Of these pessimists, only 3 per cent believed that it would end by December.Reuse content