Nine out of ten UK chief financial officers (CFO) are seeing more than the normal level of economic uncertainties facing their business, according to research by Deloitte UK.
The survey of 133 CFOs, including 35 from FTSE 100 and 55 from FTSE 250 companies, found that 43% saw a probability of another UK recession continuing or recurring in the next two years, with a 27% predicted probability of one or more countries leaving the eurozone in the next year.
The research also showed that despite growing confidence businesses are adopting defensive strategies; increasing cash flow, cutting costs and reducing leverage, while capital spending is less popular than at any time in the past two years.
CFOs said the weakness of eurozone economies was dampening investment, second only to macroeconomic uncertainty in its effect. Deloitte’s chief economist Ian Stewart commented "CFO optimism has made up some of the record losses we saw in the second quarter of this year", buoyed by "the recent promise of more aggressive action by from the Federal Reserve to support growth, and from the European Central Bank to strengthen the single currency."
He said that the "more cautious long term view" of UK CFOs was in contrast to the 16% rise in global equity markets between June and mid-September, which had been driven by central bank activity.
He concluded that "despite macro uncertainty and weak growth" only 20% of CFOs expected revenues to shrink in the next five years, while "demand from outside Europe, from emerging markets and industrialised countries such as the US and Japan, is seen as providing some offset to weakness in Europe’s economies."
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