Michael Page hit by plunging confidence

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The Independent Online

The eurozone crisis and plunging business confidence forced Michael Page International to warn yesterday that its profits would disappoint this year.

The recruitment specialist told investors that annual pre-tax profits would be below the bottom of analyst forecasts. Those estimates had ranged from £86.5m to £114.2m.

Michael Page had reported slower profit growth in October. Yesterday it revealed that in the past two months growth slowed to 16 per cent from 26.5 per cent in the previous quarter.

Growth in the UK, where banks are cutting jobs, picked up marginally but was still an anaemic 1.2 per cent.

All the company's other regions saw sharp slowdowns. Profit growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa, which makes up nearly half the company, dropped from 30.8 per cent to 18.5 per cent. Asia and the Americas each grew more than 40 per cent in the third quarter but plunged into the mid-20s in the past two months.

The eurozone crisis has hit confidence around the world on fears of a new banking crisis and a slump in exports to Europe.

Michael Page said: "Markets have continued to weaken as the eurozone crisis and the lowering of GDP forecasts worldwide have reduced client and candidate confidence levels."

The warning sent the shares down 5 per cent to 345.9p.