IRISH businesses are more optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago, an international survey has found.
They're also more confident about investing more in their business and taking on new staff, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report for 2013.
The study, surveying 44 countries, showed that 36pc of Irish bosses are optimistic about the country's economic prospects, above the EU average of 27pc. Ireland is the fifth most optimistic out of the 10 eurozone countries.
Grant Thornton Partner Patrick Burke said that Irish businesses were now leaner and more efficient than previously.
"The improving outlook is particularly welcome, but we have a long way to go before we could describe the Irish economy as returning to robust growth," Mr Burke said.
"It continues to be a two-speed recovery, with the export sector showing growth, but the domestic economy remaining weak."
Other key findings of the survey include:
• 38pc of Irish businesses remain slightly or very pessimistic about the economic outlook this year, while 36pc were slightly or very optimistic
• 92pc expect employment to increase or remain the same.
• 54pc of Irish businesses expect profit growth this year, compared with 30pc in 2012.