United Kingdom economy grows at slowest annual rate since 2010 in Q3

Boris Johnson

Barclays had said in a note sent to clients on Sunday: "We expect Q3 GDP to print at 0.4%, supported by temporary factors relating to the auto factory closures".

Barclays said on Monday: "Data disappointments could add to the near-term bearish narrative even though, ultimately, the path for GBP over the next three-six months should remain driven by politics".

The Office for National Statistics said the 0.3% growth for the latest quarter signalled the economy "slowing" as the annual GDP rate had fallen to 1% since the same period in 2018.

The slowdown reflected a smaller-than-expected rebound in quarterly GDP growth after a contraction in the second quarter, when businesses faced an overhang of stocks of raw materials after Brexit was delayed from the end of March.

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. Indeed, the 0.3% q/q rise in GDP in Q3 was lower than the consensus and the Bank of England forecasts of 0.4% and only just above the eurozone's 0.2% quarterly gain. Last week the BoE nudged up its growth forecast for 2019 to 1.4% from 1.3%.

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"Reviewing last year's situation, growth slowed to the lowest level in the past decade". Two BoE policymakers voted to cut rates last week and others could follow if growth remains weak and uncertainty persists about the longer-term trade ties between Britain and the EU.

GDP grew steadily in the third quarter, mainly thanks to a strong July. Household spending, which has been more resilient than business investment, due to low unemployment and rising wages, rose by 0.4% on the quarter.

However, leading economists and business groups have said the new figures reflect the "weak" state of the United Kingdom economy, as it delivered 1% year-on-year growth against the same quarter in 2018 - the lowest figure since 2010. Government spending grew by 0.3 per cent.

Monthly retail sales volumes were flat in September and annual sales growth picked up to 3.1 per cent from a weak 2.6 per cent in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said - slightly less of a recovery than economists had forecast in a Reuters poll.

"Manufacturing failed to grow as falls in most industries were offset by auto production bouncing back", he added.

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