UK economic growth eased further in the three months to November with the pace of expansion slowing to a six-month low, driven by the weak performance in manufacturing, as activity was damped by uncertainties linked mainly to global trade and Brexit.
Growth in the gross domestic product slowed to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent in the three months to October, the monthly estimates from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. The pace was the weakest since the three months to May, when the economy expanded 0.1 percent.
Services were the largest contributor to GDP growth in the three months to November, the ONS 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,” ONS Head of National Accounts Rob Kent-Smith said.
“Accountancy and house building 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,” he added.
Manufacturing output decreased for a second month running, down 0.8 percent in the three months to November after a 0.2 percent fall in the previous three-month period. The largest downward contribution came from a 2.4 percent fall in the manufacture of automobiles.
Overall production decreased 0.8 percent, marking the biggest fall since May 2017. All four main production sub-sectors experienced negative growth; the last time this happened was in October 2012, the ONS said.
Construction growth increased to 2.1 percent from 1.6 percent, while services retained the pace of expansion at 0.3 percent.
Compared to the previous month, GDP rose 0.2 percent in November after a 0.1 percent increase in October. Economists had expected the pace of growth to remain unchanged.
GDP grew 1.4 percent year-on-year in November after a 1.6 percent rise in October.
Britain is preparing to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to reach a consensus among lawmakers regarding a deal with the European Union.
Amid the political wrangling over the Brexit deal, public support for holding a second referendum is growing.
In December, the Bank of England trimmed the growth projection for the fourth quarter of 2018 to 0.2 percent from 0.3 percent.
The central bank had warned earlier that a no-deal Brexit would cause a severe recession in the UK, the kind not even seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago.
Meanwhile, data from the latest purchasing managers’ surveys point to an economic expansion of 0.1 percent, survey firm IHS Markit said.
“Growth looks set to be noticeably slower in the fourth quarter than the third, when activity was boosted by warm weather,”ING economist James Smith said. “We expect GDP growth in the 0.2/0.3 percent region in the final quarter of 2018, and something similar for the first three months of 2019.”
Separate data from the ONS on Friday showed that the visible trade surplus rose to GBP 12.02 billion in November from GBP 11.94 billon in October. Economists had expected a surplus of GBP 11.4 billion.