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UK economy grows in October but at a ‘snail’s pace’

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  • 10/12/2020
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UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.4 per cent in October – the sixth consecutive monthly increase, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The October GDP is now 23.4 per cent higher than the April low. However, it remains 7.9 per cent below levels seen in February 2020 before the full impact of the coronavirus crisis.

By sector, services grew 0.2 per cent in the month, though it’s still 8.6 per cent lower than the February level. Production grew 1.3 per cent, but it remains 4.4 per cent lower than the pre-pandemic figure. And while construction grew 1 per cent, it’s still 6.4 per cent lower than February.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said that while the economy continued to grow in October, it was at a “snail’s pace”.

She said: “With the Covid-19 restrictions likely to remain in place for some time, the economy is in for a difficult few months yet. But scope for a decent “vaccine bounce” next year should allow the economy to regain its pre-pandemic level in early 2022. And we now think that by the middle of the decade the economy won’t be much smaller than if the crisis had never happened.

“The 0.4 per cent monthly rise in GDP was a far cry from the 2.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent monthly gains seen in August and September respectively and suggests that the recovery had already burnt out even before November’s lockdown was imposed. That left the economy still 7.9 per cent smaller than before the crisis, a bigger shortfall than during the whole of the Global Financial Crisis.

“What’s more, the second lockdown probably caused the economy to contract sharply in November, perhaps by up to 8 per cent. And the economy still has an awful lot to contend with in the form of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in the coming months, rising unemployment and a large overhang of corporate debt. Beyond the next six months, though, the outlook looks brighter – provided of course, the politicians don’t mess it up with an uncooperative no deal Brexit or an early fiscal tightening.”

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