Uncertainty over Britain's departure from the European Union has triggered a sharp drop in business confidence in Europe over the past six months, a survey showed on Thursday.
Only 50% of European business leaders said they were confident about the ability of their firms to grow and prosper, compared with 70% in November 2018, the survey by insurer CNA Hardy found.
Only 36% of British business leaders were confident, down slightly from 39% in the previous survey.
"Hard Brexit is becoming more of a reality," for continental European as well as British business leaders, Dave Brosnan, CEO of CNA Hardy, told Reuters.
Weaker economic conditions and a rise in populism in Europe are also dampening business confidence, he added.
Meanwhile, confidence among North American business leaders fell to 59% from 64% previously, a drop Brosnan said was linked to uncertainty over upcoming elections in Canada and the United States.
In the Asia-Pacific region, however, 65% of business leaders were confident, up from 53% in the last survey, despite the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.
Brosnan said that was due to the region's strong natural resources, agriculture and "people resources," which are helping to insulate it from the trade spat.
The survey of 1,500 business leaders of multinational firms with operations in Europe was carried out in February and March 2019. (Reuters)