SThree sees signs of pick-up in London, NY bank demand

LONDON, Sept 6 Fri Sep 6, 2013 3:56am EDT

LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - British recruiter SThree said there were signs of improvement in confidence in a number of its markets, including the London and New York banking sectors, but it was too soon to call it a broadly based recovery.

"North America has been our fastest-growing region," Chief Executive Gary Elden said on Friday. "We are still positive about the rest of the world. But UK and Europe, excluding Germany, is still pretty challenging."

His comments came after SThree posted a 2 percent slip in third-quarter gross profit, dragged lower by fewer permanent placements in Europe.

Group gross profit reached 49.8 million pounds ($77.6 million) in the three months to Aug. 25, with the contribution from permanent staff falling 11 percent.

The number of permanent placements fell 10 percent to 1,644 year-on-year, the company said, in part offset by a 8 percent rise in contract positions.

"Overall, while we have seen some improvement in economic confidence in a number of our markets ... the picture remains mixed and it is too early to call a broadly based recovery," Elden said.

But he said the group's banking business had seen one of its best performances in a year in the last quarter.

"That's generally a good indicator and we've started to see a good performance in our banking businesses in the UK and in America," he said.

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