Finance directors optimistic, but caution remains

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OPTIMISM among finance directors at Britain’s biggest companies has risen for the second quarter running after the chances of the eurozone breaking up diminished, according to a survey by ­accountancy practice Deloitte.

Fears of a euro break-up have fallen to 22 per cent from 37 per cent 
12 months ago, with chief financial ­officers entering 2013 in a more positive mood than in 2012.

Yet Deloitte warned observers not to expect a return to “aggressive expansion” because companies remain focused on “reducing costs and increasing cash flow”.

Ian Stewart, chief UK economist at Deloitte, said: “Despite expectations of a weak recovery in 2013, large companies enter the New Year with a greater focus on cost control and cash flow than at any time in the past two years.

“The emerging picture is of businesses constrained by low growth and uncertainty rather than weakness in business models or access to capital. Despite confidence fluctuating with the economic prospects, we’ve seen a long-term drift to greater defensiveness.”