THERE is very little indeed to cheer about in the latest survey of activity in the Scottish private sector economy.

Bank of Scotland’s Purchasing Managers’ Index report signals output has fallen in two of the last three months.

This is disappointing, although perhaps not entirely surprising given the economic headwinds of Brexit.

Household finances remain under severe pressure. Against the backdrop of sterling’s post-Brexit vote weakness, inflation has surged and real wages have fallen. Businesses remain nervous about investing amid the Brexit uncertainty.

Fraser Sime, in Bank of Scotland’s commercial banking division, said of the latest survey findings: “For the first time since July 2016, the downturn in Scottish private sector business activity was broad-based, with both goods producers and service providers signalling declines in output.”

However, on a more positive note, he flagged continuing optimism about future prospects among companies north of the Border.

In spite of the Scottish private sector economy’s fall back into contractionary territory last month, companies in both the manufacturing and services sectors overall remain confident that their output and business activity will increase on a 12-month view.

In grim times such as these, it is important to hold on to hope.

Having said that, you would imagine it must be extremely frustrating for companies in Scotland and throughout the UK that the Brexit shambles is dampening expansion here, while growth in other parts of the world is strong.