The UK labour market remains in rude health, a key support for the household sector. In contrast, US and Chinese retail sales disappointed. Meanwhile, German growth rebounded in early 2019 but the economy remains fragile.
This week is likely to see the EU grant a longer, but more conditional, extension to Article 50 than the UK Government has requested. Back in Westminster talks continue to try to find a set of proposals that can be passed by the House of Commons. Away from the politics, most economic data has been disappointing.
Following the recent Grieve amendment, the chances of Parliament passing PM Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement tomorrow look very slim. A rejection would force Mrs May to unveil a Plan B next Monday. An array of outcomes is possible with an increasing chance of Article 50 being extended.
Robust growth, according to PMI – The last few days has seen a flurry of surveys released on the health of the Northern Ireland economy. Ulster Bank’s PMI pointed to robust growth across the private sector in Q4 2017. The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the same period was not quite as positive as the PMI. Nevertheless, both manufacturing and services firms reported growth in the final quarter of 2017. Overall, the performance was more encouraging for the manufacturing sector than for services firms. Continue reading
After the sobering downgrade to our prospects for productivity growth comes the scramble for solutions. The new industrial strategy, if fulfilled, is a good place to start.
Last week the UK got a downgrade. Its growth prospects were slashed by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the all important area of productivity. If it’s correct, the country faces another decade of very challenging economic circumstances having just gone through one following the financial crisis.
Keeping our fingers crossed about an improvement in productivity isn’t working. Last week provided a stark reminder that the UK’s problem in this area remains critical. In fact, it seems to be getting worse. Continue reading
A raft of data emerged from the Department for the Economy today. The most significant release was the Quarterly Employee Survey (QES) for Q2 2017 -a comprehensive survey of the actual number of jobs in the economy. This is more closely watched than the Labour Force Survey which looks at people working in some shape or form (paid, unpaid, self-employed, voluntary etc). Continue reading
The Northern Ireland economy continued to expand in Q1 2017, according to today’s data, albeit at a weaker rate than in the previous quarter. Private sector growth (+0.4% q/q, +3.4% y/y) was driven by the services sector (+0.5% q/q, +3.1% y/y) with industrial production (-0.2% q/q, +2.1% y/y) and construction (-1.7% q/q, +7.9% y/y) posting quarterly contractions. The fall in industrial production though conceals strong rates of growth within manufacturing firms (+0.9% q/q & +0.9% y/y).
Theresa May’s Brexit speech reiterated the Government’s negotiating priorities and spelled out some of the likely consequences. With the triggering of Article 50 at most 10 weeks away the real negotiations will soon begin.