COMMERCE Not feeling so good

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The feel-good factor faded for some of Britain's "middle market" managers in the run-up to the general election, a survey claimed yesterday. Coopers & Lybrand's Barometer 5 quarterly report found that by the end of March, in the middle of the election campaign, their view of the United Kingdom's economic situation had become "significantly more pessimistic".

This was despite an impressive overall performance over the previous year, with 11.8 per cent sales growth and a 10 per cent rise in profits. More than 400 companies, with turnover between pounds 8m and pounds 200m took part in the survey.

The regional picture varied, with the South-east and East Anglia the most confident in the country about their economic prospects for the coming months, the South-west coming not far behind.

However, the North-east and North-west were at the other end of the scale, both anticipating reductions to operating profits and job creation, despite either static or slightly improved sales growth.