Businesses are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel
Confidence among business professionals has risen for the first time since the end of 2007, a survey indicates.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants' index of business confidence rose to -28.2 at the end of March, from -45.3 at the end of the previous quarter.
"The underlying data suggests that companies have heeded warnings," said the Institute's's head Michael Izza.
More than 1,000 chartered accountants were surveyed across England and Wales.
Mr Izza said businesses were "managing the consequences of the global recession remarkably well". But he added: "While the change in outlook is encouraging, I still believe that difficult times lie ahead."
"I would urge businesses to not be complacent and be measured in any steps they take in response to an economic recovery."
Last week, the Office of National Statistics said the output of the UK economy fell by an unrevised 1.9% in the first three months of 2009 and household spending dropped 1.2%, the biggest decline since 1980.
The only sector of the economy making a positive contribution to growth was government spending.