Tight monetary policy was seen by the finance chiefs as the main threat to their business.
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Finance executives at top British firms have turned more cautious in the face of high inflation and rising interest rates and they expect a slowdown in hiring and pay growth, a survey showed on Monday.
A quarterly survey by Deloitte found the difference between chief financial officers who were more optimistic about their businesses' prospects and those who were less optimistic stood at -10 percentage points, a sharp change from +25 three months earlier.
"The burst of business optimism seen in the spring has faded under the weight of inflation and rising interest rates," Deloitte's chief economist, Ian Stewart, said.
"Corporates have responded with an increasing focus on cost reduction and cash control."
The survey showed early signs of cooling in the labour market with CFOs signalling a further easing in recruitment difficulties and a slowdown in wage growth.
The Bank of England has said the pace of wage growth is too high and it is monitoring the labour market closely as it considers whether to raise borrowing costs for the 14th time in a row on Aug. 3 in an attempt to combat high inflation.
Tight monetary policy was seen by the CFOs as the main threat to their business, overtaking concerns around geopolitics and energy prices that have dominated for the past two years.
The survey of 69 CFOs - 13 of them from FTSE 100 firms and 21 from FTSE 250 companies - was conducted between June 15 and June 27.
Separately on Monday, the Confederation of British Industry said Britain's economy could get a boost of as much as 57 billion pounds ($75 billion), or 2.4% of GDP, by 2030 if the country capitalises on green growth opportunities.
The CBI called on the government to deliver a clear and stable policy environment and offer incentives for investment, among other measures.
"With a pivotal general election fast approaching, all parties should be on red alert for green growth and put it at the very heart of their manifestos," CBI Director-General Rain Newton-Smith said.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)