News releases

Brexit uncertainty weighs on UK GDP growth

11/02/2019

The weak growth figures point to risk of recession this year, comments Schroders’ Senior European Economist, Azad Zangana:

  • Sterling weakens against the dollar after news UK growth slowed to 0.2%
  • Rise in government spending helped bolster growth
  • Slow growth highlights risk of recession in the first half of this year

Growth in the UK economy slowed sharply in the final quarter of 2018 as Brexit uncertainty weighed on business investment. Real GDP growth fell from 0.6% in Q3 to just 0.2% in Q4, lower than consensus forecasts of 0.3%. The latest figures complete the numbers for 2018 where, for the year as a whole, GDP grew by 1.4% - its weakest growth rate since 2013. To make matters worse, the monthly data shows that the economy contracted by 0.4% in December. While this is only a monthly figure, it is an unusually big drop and highlights the weak state of the economy. 

Within the detail of the quarterly figures, only the services sector managed to generate positive growth as output from both the construction sector and wider production sectors was down over the quarter. Looking at the contributions from expenditure, household spending remained steady, growing at 0.4%, although economy wide investment was down 0.5%. Business investment was particularly weak, contracting for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Meanwhile, government spending rose 1.4% over the quarter – its fastest quarterly rate since the first quarter of 2012. Without this odd rise in spending, GDP growth would have been negative. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that while exports accelerated over the quarter, imports grew even faster, causing net trade to slightly drag on GDP growth. 

Overall, this is an ugly set of figures for the economy. Brexit is clearly having a negative impact on sentiment and growth, and it raises the risks of a recession in the first half of the year.

For further information, please contact:

Schroders

Andy Pearce                                 Tel: +44 (0)207 658 2203 andy.pearce@schroders.com

Charlotte Stickings                      Tel: +44 (0)207 658 3621 charlotte.stickings@schroders.com

Note to Editors

Important Information: The views and opinions contained herein are those of Azad Zangana, Senior European Economist, Schroders, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds. This material is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in this document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. All investments involve risks including the risk of possible loss of principal. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in this document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. The opinions in this document include some forecasted views. We believe we are basing our expectations and beliefs on reasonable assumptions within the bounds of what we currently know. However, there is no guarantee than any forecasts or opinions will be realised. These views and opinions may change.