Fresh signs of optimism for the economy emerged from expectations of a strong quarter from "back-office" support service firms that act as a barometer for corporate Britain.
Accountancy firm KPMG's latest quarterly study of the outsourcing industry found 59 per cent of bosses expect the pace of customer demand to increase between now and April 2013.
A third of outsourcing firms also said that where new contracts are agreed profitability is improving, up from 20 per cent a year ago.
Separate data also showed UK businesses paid their bills earlier in the last quarter. The Late Payment Index from credit reference group Experian found businesses paid their bills nearly 1.3 days earlier in the third quarter of 2012 against a year earlier. Max Firth of Experian said: "The gap between payment performance of the biggest and smallest businesses has continued to close."