The UK financial system expanded on the quickest tempo in two years throughout the third quarter, however has begun displaying indicators of a slowdown forward of Brexit as extra enterprise funding choices are placed on maintain.
In what’s more likely to be a peak for the financial system this yr, the most recent snapshot from the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) confirmed GDP progress within the three months to the tip of September was 0.6% – the quickest enlargement because the ultimate quarter of 2016.
However progress has begun to falter because the increase to the financial system from the nice and cozy climate over the summer time and England’s efficiency on the World Cup has fizzled out.
GDP progress flatlined in August and September, with indicators of weak point in enterprise spending, retail gross sales and a fall in home automotive purchases.
Metropolis economists had forecast progress of 0.1% in September, though the UK financial system unexpectedly stagnated for the second month in a row, as new automotive registrations fell by a fifth within the worst September for the motor commerce in a decade.
Though there are gathering indicators of weak point because the nation braces for Brexit on 29 March subsequent yr, on an annual foundation, the British financial system grew by 1.5%.
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, mentioned on a go to to the Fuller’s brewery in London simply two weeks after the price range that the expansion charge was “proof of the underlying power in our financial system”.
There are nonetheless mounting indicators of underlying weak point as Theresa Might struggles to agree a Brexit take care of the EU, and enterprise funding dropped on the quickest charge since early 2016.
The most recent figures reveal a contraction in company spending of 1.2% throughout the third quarter, which was the primary time enterprise funding has slipped for 3 consecutive quarters because the international monetary disaster a decade in the past.
Azad Zangana, senior European economist on the Metropolis fund supervisor Schroders mentioned issues over Brexit had been among the many causes for companies delaying funding choices.
“Though extra lately, these delays are turning into cancellations, with nearly day by day bulletins of producing jobs losses and plant closures as corporations shift manufacturing out of the UK,” he added.
The most important contribution to progress within the third quarter got here from the UK’s companies sector. Internet commerce – the distinction between imports and exports – contributed 0.eight share factors to GDP progress, with a 2.7% enhance in exports versus stagnant progress in imports.
Building output continued to speed up following a weak begin to the yr, when freezing climate from the “beast from the east” compelled cranes and diggers throughout Britain to fall idle. Quarterly output in manufacturing additionally rose for the primary time in 2018.
With an enlargement of 0.6% within the third quarter, the most recent GDP figures counsel the UK financial system grew 3 times quicker than that of the eurozone, after progress within the single forex bloc dropped to 0.2%, the bottom charge in 4 years.
Nevertheless, economists consider UK progress has probably peaked. The Workplace for Price range Accountability, the federal government’s economics watchdog, estimates progress will drop to 1.3% in 2018 from 1.7% final yr – which might make 2018 the worst yr for the financial system because the recession in 2009.
Rob Kent-Smith, the top of nationwide accounts on the ONS, mentioned: “The financial system noticed a powerful summer time, though long run financial progress remained subdued.”
Economists mentioned that a lot of the acceleration in progress throughout the third quarter would have come as firms and companies caught up on purchases and gross sales they’d have made earlier within the yr, but had been prevented from doing so by the freezing climate throughout February and March.
Samuel Tombs, of the consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, mentioned: “Two consecutive months of stagnation in GDP [during August and September] underline that the financial system has little momentum and that the robust quarter-on-quarter progress charge merely displays the weather-related rebound in the summertime.”
Strengths and weaknesses within the UK financial system
Helped alongside by hotter climate over the summer time, family spending grew by a strong 0.5% within the third quarter. The companies sector, the biggest driver of progress within the financial system, grew by 0.4%. Nevertheless, shopper spending started to sluggish in August and September.
Energy: labour market
Unemployment is on the lowest ranges because the mid-1970s, whereas common weekly earnings are rising on the quickest tempo in nearly a decade. Nonetheless, households have come beneath strain from increased inflation, with actual pay but to return to the height recorded earlier than the monetary disaster.
Weak point: enterprise funding
Brexit-related uncertainty has put the dampeners on enterprise funding, with a decline of 1.2% within the quantity invested by firms within the third quarter. This marked the third straight quarterly decline – the primary time this has occurred because the international monetary disaster.
Weak point: automotive trade
Manufacturing of transport gear fell by 0.2% within the third quarter, within the first such decline because the monetary disaster. Economists blamed the decline on weaker ranges of automotive manufacturing, amid squeezed family incomes and new emissions assessments.