The level of new business activity in the financial services industry fell over the past three months, according to the CBI's latest survey.

The quarterly survey by the CBI and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that despite a modest global economic revival, British business optimism fell in the three months to January. Business optimism was found to be at minus 16, the lowest fall since September 2001.

Almost a third of businesses reported a decline in the level of new business over the past three months. The survey found that business activity stood at minus 10 for the final quarter of 2002, compared with plus 43 in the second quarter of last year.

CBI chief economist Ian McCafferty said: "2002 was a difficult year for many parts of the financial services industry especially for those affected by stock market falls."