UK business confidence at four-month low but signs of vaccine boost: Lloyds

FILE PHOTO: People walk during the morning rush hour in the financial district of Canary Wharf amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Confidence among British businesses fell to its lowest level in November since July as companies faced new COVID-19 restrictions but firms turned less pessimistic after news of a breakthrough in developing a vaccine, a survey showed on Monday.

Lloyds Bank’s business barometer sank by 3 points to -21 for the month as a whole, hit by nervousness about Britain’s chances of a post-Brexit trade deal as well as the pandemic measures.

But responses in the second week of the survey saw confidence rise by three points to -15, coinciding with the Nov. 9 announcement by Pfizer Inc about the effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech.

Lloyds’ survey of 1,200 firms was conducted between Nov. 2 and 16, covering the start of a month-long lockdown for England. A third of firms planned a pay freeze, up from 14% at the start of 2020, Lloyds said.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden