UK third quarter GDP surprises

| November 1, 2011

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today revealed the UK economy expanded by a better-than-expected 0.5% in the July to September period.

This compares with a 0.1% growth rate for the second quarter and was better than the 0.3% expected by most economists.

The better performance was attributed to production sector output, which rose 0.5% in the three month period, versus a 1.2% decline in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, business services and finance were the biggest contributor to overall growth in the period, expanding by 0.8%, the Office for National Statistics said.

However, the better than expected figures should not be regarded as an economic rebound since it compares with a second quarter which was hit by a�?special factorsa�? such as the Royal Wedding and Japanese tsunami which trimmed as much as 0.5 percentage points from quarterly growth, analystsa�� said.

Analysts also point out that the third quarter growth was still weak, at just 0.5%, and the outlook remains bleak.

Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne described the figures as “a positive step” but added that the British economy still has a a�?difficult journeya�?.

In other news today, the Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) revealed manufacturing activity contracted in October with the index falling to 47.4 in October from a reading of 50.8 the previous month.

The index is at the lowest level since June 2009 and suggests a weak start to the final quarter of 2011.

As a result, the latest PMI figures suggest the economy is still struggling and the Chancellor admitted that the euro zone debt crisis remains a concern.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said there is a a�?significant riska�? of the economy contracting in the fourth quarter and this follows similar observations made last week by Martin Weale and Paul Fisher, who are both members of the Bank of Englanda��s Monetary Policy Committee.

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