Mid-size firms keep it tight.

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Businesses will continue in economy mode in the first quarter of 2010, according to research by CIMA. More than 70 per cent of companies polled in its latest mid-size business confidence survey said they weren't planning to award pay rises. It found that 57 per cent of firms didn't intend to recruit new full-time employees, while 66 per cent said they wouldn't be increasing their marketing or advertising budgets this winter.

When asked what they wished for in the new year, 67 per cent wanted the UK's economy to recover as strongly as those of other countries, 28 pen cent dreamed of capping bonuses for all bankers and 27 pen cent hoped that no more banks would be bailed out with taxpayers' money.

Despite the austere mood, 23 pen cent expected their turnover to rise in the first half of this yean and oven half were more confident about their business prospects in 2010. But 4-0 per cent expected the UK necession to continue for another seven to 12 months while 25 per cent thought it would persist for two yeans. This was in contrast to respondents in Ireland, where 53 per cent expected the recession to last 13 to 24 months.

When asked about their main challenges, almost all respondents cited increasing demands from customers, tougher competition and...

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