A new survey reveals an improvement in activity levels across a wide range of Irish businesses in early 2012.

This is according to the KBC Bank Ireland/Chartered Accountants Ireland business sentiment survey for Spring 2012.

This showed the most positive business climate since the end of of 2007 with employment levels showing tentative signs of stabilisation.

The survey looked at current business conditions and also addressed some key current issues facing Irish businesses. 

It showed that job gains are now matching job losses for the first time in over four years.

It added that while significant divergences remain between sectors, the first part of the year was less difficult for most companies. It also revealed that while the next 12 months will be difficult for Irish firms, the economic recovery is expected to strengthen and broaden.

The survey found that while Irish businesses are taking a very cautious view of the economic outlook, it predicted that the recovery will be firmly established within three years.

''It remains the case that the environment is tough and companies in areas such as construction or focused on the domestic consumer continue to report weaker demand,'' said John Hannaway, president of the Chartered Accountants Ireland.

''However, at an aggregate level, there seems to have been a pick-up in business volumes of late and there is also an expectation of further modest gains in the months ahead,'' he added.

KCB's Bank Ireland's chief economist Austin Hughes said that the most encouraging aspects of the survey are indications that employment across the Irish economy may be stabilising.

''Of course, job trends still vary widely between sectors as companies continue to try to 'right size' their headcount for very different levels of activity. However, the broad picture emerging from the survey hints at a more stable employment situation that would be very supportive for sentiment, and ultimately, for domestic spending,'' he added.