March 21, 2018

UK GDP comes in at 0.4% for third quarter, beating estimates

27 October 2017, 12:42 | Lionel James

UK GDP growth higher than expected at 0.4%

UK GDP: Britain's economy grew by 0.4% in the last quarter - live updates

Head of national accounts at the ONS, Darren Morgan, said: "Growth in the third quarter of 2017 continued at a similar rate as seen in the first half of the year".

It may not be a great picture either; economists predict that GDP rose by just 0.3% during the quarter, significantly below the long-term trend growth.

"Yet if rates do rise as expected, the move will be largely symbolic - though it will be the first rise in over 10 years".

That caused the pound to jump nearly 1 per cent against the dollar to $1.326, while it was 0.6 per cent up versus the euro at €1.123.

"Export-oriented manufacturing, the largest industrial sub-sector expanded by 1.0 per cent. United Kingdom export-related sectors now benefit from the healthy expansions in the UK's major trading partners, the U.S. and the eurozone, and a tailwind from the weaker sterling, which is down 12 per cent on a trade-weighted basis since the Brexit vote".

Manufacturing also returned to growth after a weak second quarter, increasing by 1.0%.

"The figure may also provide support to the Governor of the Bank of England who is looking to raise interest rates this year and a stronger United Kingdom economy should increase the likelihood of this happening". "Philip Hammond is expected to announce measures to address the problem in his autumn Budget next month - though whether they will work is open to debate".

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The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), led by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney (pictured), will meet next on 2 November.

On a year-on-year basis, meanwhile, Britain's economy expanded 1.5% in the third quarter, matching both analysts' expectations and the rate of expansion recorded in the corresponding period 12 months ago.

"Despite today's marginal improvement, growth has been relatively lacklustre this year".

One rate rise, or more?

However, he said such a move would be "largely symbolic" as it merely reverses the quarter-per-cent cut that the MPC made previous year.

"We continue to see the highest level of volatility from the office sector as many global firms now headquartered in the United Kingdom put decisions on hold over their long-term office space requirements".

Services increased by 0.4%, the same rate as Q2, and remains the largest contributor to GDP growth, with a strong performance in computer programming, motor trades and retail trade. "The key uncertainty for the central bank is whether it will increase base rates any further in 2018".

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