Feel-good factor starts to falter

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The recovery in the feel-good factor among small companies appears to be in danger of faltering, according to a survey published today.

The number of small and medium-sized firms reporting an improvement in the business and economic climate fell in the first quarter of 1997, the Enterprise Barometer from capital venture group 3i showed. There was a marked fall in the number of companies expecting an increase in profits in the current quarter. Ewen Macpherson, chief executive of 3i, said: "Many small and medium-sized companies are exporters, or suppliers to exporters, and their less optimistic outlook may well reflect the impact of the appreciation of sterling on margins."