Business confidence and investment have improved, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has revealed.

As part of its Quarterly Economic Survey, for the first quarter of 2013, the BCC revealed that confidence in both manufacturing turnover and profitability rose three points to +44% and +33% respectively.

The survey, which includes responses from more than 7,000 business, also revealed that investment intentions also improved during the first three months of the year, as the BCC said the balance of manufacturing firms looking to increase investment in plant and machinery increased by three points to +14% - its best score since quarter one of 2012.

Export balances were seen as strong during the quarter, with service export orders up eight points to +26%, and deliveries improving by nine points to +33%, with the overall exports balance at the all-time high seen in 1994.

John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: “Although the progress seen in the first quarter of this year is modest, it is progress nonetheless. Business confidence has increased further, and it is really encouraging to see export orders and deliveries near to their record high levels in services. This showcases the determination and ambition of our businesses here in the UK, despite continued pressures both at home and abroad.”

He noted, however, that the economy is still not strong enough, with the fall in most employment balances disappointing, adding that a strong labour market cannot be taken for granted.

David Kern, BCC chief economist, said: “The improvement seen in most key balances in Q1 supports our view that UK output continued to grow in the early months of 2013. If an announcement of negative growth in Q1 is misleadingly described as a triple-dip recession, confidence will again be damaged unnecessarily. While the results do confirm that the UK’s economic performance is inadequate, they also show areas of strength. 

“We need a two-pronged strategy that combines a commitment to cutting the deficit, with a relentless drive to boost growth and the economy’s productive potential.”

Longworth added: “The government should be quick to implement the supply-side measures announced in the Budget to get growth moving, and consider new ways to support business confidence, which has continued to rise. It is clear from our survey that any growth this year will be slow and steady, and it is important that this does not veer off course.”