A Government minister has said that she could see a few "green shoots" of economic recovery.
Business Minister Baroness Vadera said it was too early to say how they would develop and made clear that she was not predicting the end of the current downturn.
But her comment will be taken as an indication that she is hopeful for a turnaround after months of economic gloom.
In his Pre-Budget Report in November, Chancellor Alistair Darling forecast a return to growth in the second half of this year, though subsequent indicators have prompted speculation that he may be forced to revise this assessment in the spring Budget.
Lady Vadera was asked on ITV's Lunchtime News when she believed the UK could expect to see "green shoots".
She replied: "It's a very uncertain world right now globally... I wouldn't want to be the one predicting it.
Barclays has announced plans to cut 2,100 jobs at its retail and commercial banking business.
The news comes a day after the banking giant said it was shedding the same number of jobs from its investment arm.
The bank is in consultation with trade union Unite over the job losses.
A spokesman said: "Barclays continually reviews its operations and resources so that they function efficiently as business needs and customer requirements evolve. In the current market conditions, this is particularly important."
The firm will take "all possible measures" to reduce compulsory lay-offs, including natural attrition, releasing contractors, closing vacancies and calling for voluntary redundancies.
At the beginning of last year, Barclays employed 135,000 people worldwide, of which 62,000 were based in the UK.