UK Economy Grows in 4th Quarter

Official figures show the UK economy expanded 0.5% in the three months to end of December, making the yearly rate of growth 2.2% for 2015.

The data from the Office for National Statistics shows quarterly growth above the third quarter’s 0.4%. However, it leaves annual growth down 2.9% on 2014’s growth rate.

Output in the three months to December was 1.9% higher than the previous year, down from 2.1% in the third quarter and the lowest increase since early 2013.

The annual rate of growth maybe the smallest in three years but it still makes the UK economy one of the fastest growing among the MEDC’s.

The stats are in line with the latest forecast by the International Monetary Fund which said the UK’s economy would expand at 2.2% in 2015, and for the next two years.

But the IMF also propose that the strong growth of the past two years will not return until global economies regain strength.

Chris Williamson from Markit said: “The upturn masks an unbalanced economy and a slowing pace of expansion, with the annual rate of growth slipping to the weakest for almost three years”.

He added, “Uncertainty over ‘Brexit’, weak overseas growth and financial market volatility are all creating an unsettling business environment and point to downside risks to the economy in 2016”.

Chris said, “The coming year could easily see the pace of economic growth slow further from last year’s 2.2% expansion, and the chances are growing that we will see yet another year in which interest rates are left at their record low of 0.5%”.

Earlier in January, figures for November revealed that UK industrial output had seen its sharpest decline since 2013.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently said that the UK was facing a “cocktail” of significant threats from a slowing global market.

Ben Brettell, Senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Your interpretation of today’s GDP figures will depend on whether you take a ‘glass half full’ or a ‘glass half empty’ view of the UK economy. The bigger picture is that growth remains lacklustre, but reasonably resilient”.

“Weaker construction and production output are the primary reasons for the slowdown, which could prompt concerns that the UK economy’s reliance on the services sector is increasing further”, he added.

“Production output declined 0.2% in the fourth quarter and construction was down by 0.1%, whereas the dominant services sector grew by 0.7%”.

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