News | Published November 11 2019

UK economic growth at slowest rate in almost ten years, ONS says

The Office for National Statistics has shown that the UK economy has slowed to its lowest rate of growth since the first three months of 2010.

Its figures show that year-on-year, GDP growth was at one per cent for the third quarter, with GDP down 0.1 per cent for the month of September in isolation.

However, during the three months to the end of September, the economy expanded by 0.3 per cent, buoyed by a strong July to avoid a technical recession after contraction had taken place in the second quarter.

Economic growth over the period was below expectations, with economists having predicted growth of 0.4 per cent across the third quarter.

An ONS statistician said: "GDP grew steadily in the third quarter, mainly thanks to a strong July.

“Services again led the way, with construction also performing well. Manufacturing failed to grow, as falls in many industries were offset by car production bouncing back following April shutdowns.

"Looking at the picture over the last year, growth slowed to its lowest rate in almost a decade. The underlying trade deficit narrowed, mainly due to growing exports of both goods and services.”

Chief economist at PwC, John Hawksworth, credited a strong July performance for carrying the economy through the third quarter.

He said: "The fact that growth was positive in the third quarter was largely due to a strong July. Output then fell back in August and September, which points to a lack of momentum in the economy going into the fourth quarter.”

Senior UK economist at Capital Economics, Ruth Gregory, said that in spite of the avoidance of a technical recession, the news of a “pretty soft” economy will not come as the “good news the government might have hoped for" going into December's general election.

Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics suggested that the GDP boost expected from Brexit-related stockpiling ahead of the now obsolete October 31 Article 50 deadline may have overlapped into the “start of the fourth quarter”, so that its positive lift has not yet been reflected in quarterly statistics.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
November 11 2019

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