Confidence among businesses in Scotland is at its highest since the coronavirus pandemic began but one fifth of companies are still expecting to cut jobs, according to a financial report.
The Bank of Scotland Business Barometer questions firms each month to gauge economic and trading prospects.
Its March report found confidence among firms in Scotland rose 15 points during the month to -2%, the highest reading since March 2020.
The boost was attributed to the planned easing of lockdown restrictions, with shops and hospitality due to reopen from April 26.
But the report also found a net balance of 20% of firms in Scotland expect to reduce staff levels over the next year, up 16 points on last month.
Fraser Sime, regional director for Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “Scottish business confidence has increased for a second consecutive month and is the highest since March 2020.
“Despite it remaining in negative territory, there is hope that the end of a challenging year is now in sight.”
The Business Barometer surveyed 100 businesses in Scotland between March 1-15.