THERE are further signs of improvement in the economy as figures show that business confidence is at its highest level for 22 years.

Accountant BDO's Optimism Index, which predicts business performance two quarters ahead, reached 103.8 in January, up from 103.4 in December.

This is well above the 100 point mark, meaning the economy is expected to outperform its long-term historical growth trend.

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A separate Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs showed that the improvement in labour market conditions slowed in January.

Its Labour Market Barometer posted 62.6 in January, down from December's recent peak of 63.6, but was above both its long-run average and the reading for the UK as a whole.