Hopes that the UK might dodge another recession were boosted when an influential forecaster revealed a positive shift in economic activity at the start of the year.
The news comes as another report suggests that the jobs market is "turning a corner" after a bleak few months even though the economic outlook remains uncertain, according to new research.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said its composite leading indicators, a survey designed to anticipate turning points in the economic cycle, had signified stronger but tentative signals of improvement.
Meanwhile, a report by recruitment firm Manpower indicated a return to jobs being created, while a separate study by employment firm Monster showed an increase in online job vacancies.
The Paris-based OECD, which works to improve social and economic wellbeing across the world, said it had seen a positive change in momentum in all major countries with the global position driven by growth in the US and Japan.
The UK economy contracted by 0.2% in the final three months of 2011 but industrial surveys have suggested a slight pick up in activity in January and this OECD survey will add to cautious optimism around the country's growth prospects for 2012.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The OECD leading indicator had previously declined for 10 successive months, so the improving trend seen at the end of 2011 and start of 2012 boosts hopes that the UK can return to growth in the first quarter and avoid recession."
Archer said the survey gave support to his forecast for 0.3% growth in the first three months of 2012. The official figures will be published next month.
Retail sales and purchasing managers surveys for manufacturing, services and construction have all been robust so far this year, while the Bank of England acknowledged the slight pick-up at the start of the year in its last quarterly report.
But Archer said the economy still faces "serious domestic and international headwinds" including squeezed consumer purchasing power, rising unemployment and the threat posed by the problems in the eurozone.
However, the OECD did record a slowdown in China, which may raise fears of a global slowdown as the resource-hungry country's rampant growth comes off the boil.
The report by recruitment firm Manpower indicated a return to jobs being created, while a separate study by employment firm Monster showed an increase in online job vacancies.
Manpower said a survey of over 2,000 employers showed a slight majority of those planning to recruit staff rather than cut back, although the picture was "mixed" outside London.
The Olympic Games was boosting confidence in the capital despite a wave of redundancies in the City.
Manpower UK managing director Mark Cahill said: "Although it's too early to say that a full-blown recovery is upon us, it does feel like we're turning a corner when it comes to the jobs market.
"Businesses that were battening down the hatches in the last quarter appear to be considering taking on staff. We've noticed much more flexibility among employers, particularly in the market for permanent hiring.
"The early signs of optimism are reinforced by other economic statistics of late, which point us away from a double dip recession in the direction of growth - albeit at a slow pace."
Many of the Olympics jobs will be temporary, but the "Games effect" could help lead the UK out of recession and into economic recovery, said Manpower.
Meanwhile, Monster said there had been a 4% increase in online jobs over the past year, driven by growth in the engineering industry, although jobs had fallen in legal, healthcare and among management positions.
"While the economic outlook remains uncertain, it is encouraging to observe that more than a third of industries across the UK have exhibited annual growth in online recruitment in February," said Julian Acquari, managing director of Monster UK & Ireland.
"However, while we're seeing encouraging signs across particular sectors, it is clear that the British labour market remains far from robust, as evidenced by the fact that we're seeing a low level of annual growth in our employment index, as employers continue a cautious approach to hiring."
The reports were published ahead of new unemployment figures tomorrow, which are expected to show another increase in the UK's 2.6 million jobless total.