UK companies minimize funding as Brexit nears, present account hole widens

LONDON (Reuters) – British firms minimize their funding within the second quarter of 2018, when Brexit was lower than a 12 months away, and the nation’s stability of funds shortfall grew greater than anticipated, official knowledge confirmed.

People stroll by the River Thames throughout from the monetary district of London, Britain, September 23, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The Office for National Statistics confirmed a earlier estimate that Britain’s general economic system grew by a quarterly zero.four % within the April-June interval.

But it lowered the annual progress price within the second quarter to 1.2 % from a earlier estimate of 1.three %.

It additionally minimize the quarterly progress price within the first three months of the 12 months, when the nation was hit by heavy snow, to zero.1 % from zero.2 %.

Economic progress within the first half of 2018 was the weakest for a six-month interval because the second half of 2011, the ONS mentioned on Friday.

Sterling fell after the info and briefly touched its lowest degree in almost two weeks in opposition to the U.S. greenback.

“Although it has picked up a little from a slow start to the year, underlying economic growth remains persistently below the long-term average,” ONS statistician Rob Kent-Smith mentioned.

The ONS has already printed its estimate for GDP progress for the three months to July, which confirmed the economic system working at its quickest tempo in almost a 12 months, helped by scorching summer season climate and the World Cup, which inspired customers to spend.

Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, mentioned the weak image of the economic system within the first half of the 12 months, mixed with the uncertainty about Brexit, meant the Bank of England was unlikely to lift rates of interest once more till May, after Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU.


The revised figures printed on Friday instructed firms have been taking a cautious strategy earlier than Brexit.

Business funding fell zero.7 % within the second quarter in contrast with the primary — a pointy discount from a earlier estimate that funding grew by zero.5 % — and was down for the second quarter in a row.

“Investment is being tightly controlled with spend directed to keeping things going but not to expansion. UK is going to lose out on future growth,” Mark Gregory, chief economist at accountants EY, mentioned on Twitter.

The ONS mentioned the autumn was pushed largely by decreased funding in equipment and buildings.

In annual phrases, business funding was additionally down, falling zero.2 % for the primary decline in a 12 months and a half.

The Bank of England has beforehand mentioned business funding in Britain needs to be rising strongly with the world economic system increasing rapidly, and it hyperlinks the weak spot to Brexit uncertainty.

A survey printed earlier on Friday mentioned one in 5 British firms would transfer not less than a few of their operations to the European Union within the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The ONS additionally mentioned Britain’s stability of funds shortfall acquired greater, hit by the nation’s wider commerce deficit.

The distinction between cash flowing in and overseas was adverse by 20.three billion kilos ($26.5 billion) from April to June, greater than a deficit of 15.7 billion kilos within the first quarter, the ONS mentioned.

The shortfall was additionally greater than a median forecast of 19.four billion kilos in a Reuters ballot of economists.

As a share of GDP, the deficit rose to three.9 %, up from % within the first quarter and was the most important in a 12 months.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned that Britain’s giant present account deficit left it reliant on “the kindness of strangers”.

That could possibly be a danger because the nation prepares to depart the EU in March with no readability but on whether or not it is going to easy its exit with a transition interval.

Writing by William Schomberg, modifying by Larry King

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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