UK economy continues stable growth despite Brexit uncertainties

Published: February 11, 2018 12:49:39 | Updated: February 13, 2018 20:02:43

Offices are seen at dusk as St. Paul's cathedral and construction cranes are seen on the skyline in the London, Britain, on Nov 2, 2015. - Reuters file photo

The British economy continues to show stable growth, with the uncertainties around Brexit failing to blunt GDP expansion, according to an economic research institute report.

The British economy grew by 0.5 per cent over the three months up to the end of January, according to figures from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) released on Friday.

The NIESR, an independent London-based economic think-tank, said in its latest report that British economic activity picked up in the second half of 2017 after a period of subdued growth in the first half of the year, according to Xinhua.

The recovery was driven by both the manufacturing and the service sectors, supported by a buoyant global economy, while construction output continued to lag, the report said.

"Growth is stable. We have been at that level for a few months now. A good ending to 2017 has helped," Amit Kara, head of British macroeconomic forecasting at the NIESR, told Xinhua on Friday afternoon.

British GDP growth would come very close to 2 per cent this year, according to the NIESR, a figure which is in line with long-term trend growth, but economists now believe that the British economy is no longer capable of the level of productivity growth seen in the past.

This has a consequence of lowering the rate of growth which the economy can make without overheating.

Kara said that the NIESR's forecast economic growth of 1.8 per cent for 2018 was close to or just above what the post-financial crisis British economy can sustain without hitting trouble.

"That is pretty close to the maximum it could grow at. The new maximum is now about 1.75 percent, because of Britain's lower productivity performance," said Kara.

Unemployment is now near a record low with jobs at a record high, and the BoE on Thursday once again lowered the rate of unemployment which the economy can safely sustain.

It is uncertain if demand now outstrips supply, and the consequence could be inflationary wage pressures.

"We don't see wage growth yet and there are risks around wage growth. If wages start growing without productivity then the party is over, that is the biggest fear," said Kara.

"We have had some stronger data in Q3 on productivity but it is too early to tell. We have been hammered down in the past 10 years."

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