UK economy expands 0.1% in first quarter

The UK financial system expanded within the first quarter, displaying larger resilience than forecast a number of months in the past, however the efficiency in March was worse than anticipated.

UK GDP rose by 0.1 per cent between the ultimate quarter of 2022 and the primary three months of this yr, in keeping with knowledge printed by the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics on Friday.

The growth was in step with analysts’ expectations and adopted a 0.1 per cent development within the earlier quarter.

The Financial institution of England mentioned on Thursday it anticipated the financial system to stagnate in each the primary and second quarters with development accelerating in the remainder of the yr. In February, the BoE forecast a recession lasting all through 2023 and into the primary quarter of subsequent yr. However it not expects such a protracted contraction due to decrease vitality costs, stronger world development and extra strong client and company confidence.

Ruth Gregory, economist at Capital Economics, mentioned there was “nonetheless no recession, however with the complete drag from larger rates of interest but to be felt it’s too quickly to sound the all-clear”.

The ONS famous that throughout the quarter, development was pushed by IT and building. This was partially offset by falls in well being, which registered a 0.5 per cent fall, and training and public administration, each down 0.7 per cent as these sectors have been affected by widespread strikes.

Authorities consumption and internet commerce have been additionally a drag on development as exports fell 8.1 per cent, a bigger contraction than the 7.2 per cent for imports. Enterprise funding rebounded by 0.7 per cent, with the deadline for beneficiant tax incentives to take a position approaching on the finish of March, however remained 1.4 per cent under their pre-pandemic ranges

ONS knowledge confirmed that the quarterly GDP fee was boosted by development in January, revised as much as 0.5 per cent, whereas output fell by 0.3 per cent between February and March, because the companies sector stuttered.

The studying dissatisfied economists polled by Reuters who forecast GDP to be flat in March.

Darren Morgan, director of financial statistics on the ONS mentioned that the autumn in March was pushed by “widespread decreases throughout the companies sector”.

He defined that regardless of the launch of latest quantity plates, vehicles gross sales have been low by historic requirements — persevering with the development seen for the reason that begin of the pandemic — with warehousing, distribution and retail additionally having a poor month.

The figures prompt that low actual revenue and excessive rates of interest, in addition to the unusually moist climate, have been damping exercise, in keeping with some economists.

These falls have been partially offset by a robust month for manufacturing in addition to development in fuel manufacturing and distribution and in building.

Line chart of Real indices, rebased Q4 2019= 100 showing The UK economy is underperforming other countries

In March, the UK financial system was 0.1 per cent above its pre-pandemic stage of February 2020 on the month-to-month studying.

Nevertheless, on the internationally comparable quarterly determine, GDP was nonetheless 0.5 per cent under This fall 2019, earlier than the primary Covid-19 restrictions. This can be a a lot poorer efficiency than for the US, whose financial system rose by 5.3 per cent over that interval and the eurozone, up by 2.5 per cent.

The UK is “nonetheless on the backside of the G7 league desk”, mentioned Samuel Tombs, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. He defined that this mainly mirrored weak spot in households’ actual spending, however “no less than the magnitude of the underperformance isn’t rising relative to different international locations in Europe”.

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