HAMPSHIRE businesses are starting 2014 with a positive outlook, according to Southampton-based financial advisors Grant Thornton.

In the company’s latest international business report, the firm’s figures showed business optimism in the UK surging from -3 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 to 71 per cent in the last quarter of 2013.

That 74 per cent swing has seen the UK rank as the world’s seventh most optimistic country about its global business prospects – ranking higher than both the USA and China.

Norman Armstrong, a partner at Grant Thornton, said: “The rebound in confidence and sustained performance of UK businesses over the past year is something that can truly be applauded.

“The broad base of the recovery, largely driven by mid-market businesses, sets a solid foundation for growth to continue in 2014, but it remains crucial we don’t rest on our laurels.”

The report also shows that 69 per cent of UK businesses are expecting increased revenues in the next year, while there has been a 13 per cent rise in profitability expectations, up to 63 per cent.

Only 24 per cent of businesses said they expected demand to reduce between the start of 2014 and the start of last year.