Growth of UK economy grinds to six month low

The construction industry remains strong, driven by investment in private house building

Latest official data published today shows that growth in the UK’s economy slowed in the three months to November to slump to its weakest pace for half a year.

The economy grew by 0.3 per cent during the period, less than the 0.4 per cent in the three months to October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The ONS said manufacturers suffered their longest period of monthly falls in output since the financial crisis, being hit by weaker overseas demand.

The data reveals that on a rolling three-month basis, the manufacturing sector shrank by 0.8 per cent and month-on-month it fell 0.3 per cent.

The ONS also said the economy grew by 0.2 per cent in November, up from 0.1 per cent in October.

Construction output rose a healthy 0.6 per cent month-on-month and 3.0 per cent year-on-year in November, after a flat performance in October. This followed strong gains over the summer months, and construction output was up a robust 3.1 per cent on a three-month/three-month basis in November.

The ONS also reported that the UK trade data deficit narrowed marginally to £2.9bn in November after widening to £3.0bn in October from £2.0bn in September. Exports rose 0.4 per cent month-on-month in November while imports edged up 0.1 per cent.

The ONS reported that the total trade deficit (goods and services) narrowed £0.2bn to £7.9bn in the three months to November 2018 as both goods and services exports each increased £0.1bn more than their respective imports.

ONS head of national accounts Rob Kent-Smith, said: “Growth in the UK economy continued to slow in the three months to November 2018 after performing more strongly through the middle of the year.

“Accountancy and housebuilding again grew but a number of other areas were sluggish.

“Manufacturing saw a steep decline, with car production and the often-erratic pharmaceutical industry both performing poorly.”