A survey by employers' group IBEC indicates that one in four Irish companies is planning to hire new staff in the next three months.

The survey also recorded a significantly improved export performance because Irish businesses were winning new customers.

In its latest Business Sentiment Report, IBEC says there is a substantial increase in companies' employment outlook, with a quarter planning on hiring new staff within the next three months.

The overall picture is significantly more positive than when IBEC first conducted the survey in 2009, particularly in sectors with high concentrations of multinational firms.

Companies in medical devices and hospitality have the most positive outlooks for their own businesses, while retailers have the most negative outlook.

IBEC's chief economist, Fergal O'Brien, says a majority of Irish businesses remain confident despite the market turmoil in Europe in recent months.


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"Economic conditions across Europe have been hit by a crisis of confidence in recent months, but for now it does not appear that this has severely impacted on Irish companies," said O'Brien.

"The majority of Irish businesses remain confident about both their current business performance and the three-month outlook."

The survey also found that export sales remain solid with further growth forecast as businesses win new customers and regain market share.

IBEC says Irish businesses will be able to withstand the global economic downturn.

The report was based on the responses of over 400 IBEC member manufacturing and services companies.

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