Finance chiefs wary on weaknesses in global economy

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte

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CORPORATE RISK appetite and sentiment has faded in the face of weakness in emerging economies and global equity markets, according to a new survey of finance chiefs.

Chief financial officers’ perceptions of external financial and economic uncertainty have seen the sharpest rise in five years ago.

Deloitte quizzed 122 chief financial officers of FTSE 350 and other large private UK companies for the quarterly survey.

Some 73 per cent said the level of financial and economic uncertainty is above normal, high or very high in the third quarter.

This is up from 55 per cent in the second quarter and marks a return to the level last seen in 2013.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “Emerging market weakness and equity market turmoil have taken a toll on risk appetite amongst the UK’s largest businesses.

“But sentiment among large businesses is changeable and heavily influenced by the global environment, especially by news flow and the performance of equity markets.

“In both areas good news has been in short supply of late: UK equities down 16 per cent from their April peaks; US institutional investor optimism at 2009 levels; financial market volatility up sharply and more downgrades to emerging market growth forecasts.

“The firms on the CFO Survey panel are large and have heavy overseas exposure, with more than half of their revenues coming from outside the UK.

“While external risks are centre stage, CFOs are positive on prospects for the UK economy. CFOs rate uncertainty and emerging market weakness as constraints on investment but see the state of the UK economy as being a significant support for investment.”

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