Confidence among British firms has reached its highest level in at least 22 years amid expectations for rising orders, sales and profits.

The twice-yearly Business in Britain report by Lloyds Bank said optimism has improved in all regions - particularly the South West, North East and Yorkshire and East Midlands and East - as well as in all company sizes and sectors.

Firms also signalled that they intend to boost staff numbers for the second half of this year, while increased capital spending is predicted in construction and manufacturing after sharp upturns in activity.

The survey, now in its 22nd year, canvasses the views of 1,500 UK businesses and tracks the overall balance of opinion, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

Since the last report in January 2014, the confidence index has increased by eight points to 53%, the fifth consecutive increase for the survey.

This was mainly driven by firms' expectations of increasing profits and has surpassed the previous survey high of 46% recorded in January 1994.

Tim Hinton, managing director of SME and mid-markets banking at Lloyds, said: " This upturn in confidence marks an all-time survey high.

"We hope that it will lead to a further improvement in economic activity for the second half of 2014 to allow British businesses to grow and prosper."