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British small businesses are getting bullish about the future - nearly three-quarters of them are increasingly confident about the economy.

A survey of small businesses from Barclays Commercial found 57 per cent of respondents said they were "hopeful" about the economic outlook and a further 17 per cent were "excited" about prospects. Only 11 per cent said they were worried.

As for future growth of their businesses, 15 per cent said this would happen within six months and 26 per cent said it would happen within six to 12 months. An impressive 29 per cent said their firm was continuing to grow right now.

Only five per cent believed it would take longer than 18 months to move back into sustained growth.

Ian Stuart, managing director of Barclays Commercial Bank, said confidence was an important part of recovery even if we are still some way from a full economic recovery.

Barclays surveyed about 3,000 small businesses across the UK.

Meanwhile, across the pond US executives at larger tech firms believe the technology industry will come out of recession before the rest of the economy.

In Silicon Valley 77 per cent of respondents expect the tech sector to recover first. Eight out of ten believe the industry will return to growth in 2010.

Tudor Aw, head of tech at KPMG, said: "This optimistic outlook in the US bodes well for UK tech players, as the US is very much a bellwether for the global technology sector. Enterprise focused technology sector players have largely held up well in the downturn."

The survey, from KPMG, spoke to 130 "C-level" executives. 33 came from firms with revenues above $1bn, 22 between $250bn and $1bn and 75 work for companies turning over less than $250m. ®

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