Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Weak British output data triggers growth concerns

Reuters Reuters
Orlando Vargas | 08 April, 2017, 00:44

Britain's industrial sector declined for the second consecutive month, after output suffered an unexpected slowdown in February, official data released on Friday (6 April) showed.

Output in manufacturing, which accounts for about 10 percent of Britain's gross domestic product, unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent following a 1.0 percent fall in January, disappointing against forecasts for a 0.3 percent rise in the Reuters poll.

United Kingdom industrial production output fell short of economists' forecasts for 0.2 percent rise in February and recorded a monthly drop of 0.7 percent compared to a decline of 0.3 percent in the month before.

The ONS added output declined in all four main sectors, with electricity and gas providing the largest downward contribution, decreasing by 3.4%, largely because of unusually warm weather during the month.

Analysts described the data as disappointing.

IHS Markit Economist Howard Archer, said a disappointing package of data for the United Kingdom economy which fuels suspicion that GDP growth slowed markedly, largely due to consumers becoming more cautious.

"There is also evidence that some clients are reluctant to commit to major projects in an uncertain environment", he added, as Britain begins a two-year process of leaving the European Union.

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The UK's deficits in goods and services widened to £3.7bn in February, this is from a revised figure of £3bn in January.

A surprisingly large goods trade deficit - albeit distorted by imports of high-value goods like gold and aircraft - and a slump in construction added to evidence that Britain's economic growth rate peaked toward the end of past year.

Howard Archer, chief United Kingdom and European economist at IHS Markit, said the disappointing slew of data "fuels suspicion" that the British economy "slowed markedly" in the first quarter.

The economist suspects UK GDP growth in the first quarter of 2017 slowed to 0.4 percent.

Britain is keen to establish trade links with the rest of the world as it prepares to leave the European Union, with Prime Minister Theresa May and finance minister Philip Hammond leading delegations to the Middle East and India respectively this week.

Following the ONS announcement, the pound was down 0.4% versus the U.S. dollar at 1.241 and 0.3% lower against the euro at 1.167.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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