New confidence stabilises jobs in finance sector

Fears of rising unemployment in the financial services sector have been
allayed by a boost in business confidence.

A joint survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the CBI shows that confidence among
firms in the sector has stabilised, belying predictions that a continued
economic downturn would lead to further job losses.

The past three months saw a rise in employment in the sector, with finance
houses and life insurers enjoying the strongest growth. Figures for banks, fund
managers and securities traders remained constant.

Employee numbers in the sector as a whole are expected to rise over the next
three months.

While growth in business volumes stagnated in the last quarter, business
confidence improved on the two-year low recorded in the previous survey of 135

But John Hitchens, financial services partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers,
said, "This is a reflection of less turbulence in the markets rather than
an improvement in underlying fundamentals.

"Control of costs is a problem, and the survey shows a slowdown in
investment intentions."

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