jueves, 28 de abril de 2011

UK economy 'on a plateau' as 0.5pc GDP rise disappoints - Telegraph.co.uk

The figure was also well below the 0.8pc predicted last month by the Office for Budget Responsibility, suggesting the Chancellor's targets to cut the deficit could be at risk if tax revenues also disappoint.

There was a further blow as the monthly GfK NOP consumer confidence index dropped below minus 30 for only the third time in its 37-year history.

Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research, said: "It suggests that the attempts to spur growth in last month's Budget have failed to convince the public."

Despite the disappointing GDP figure, the pound gained ground against both the dollar and the euro, given fears growth could be even weaker. Markets were also reassured by more encouraging data behind the headline number.

Manufacturing, which accounts for 13pc of total output, continued its recovery with 1.1pc quarterly growth, although the sector remains well off its pre-crisis peak. The powerhouse services sector, which accounts for three quarters of output, saw quarterly growth of 0.9pc, more than making up the 0.6pc lost as the snow hit.

In contrast, construction - which can be volatile - suffered its steepest quarterly fall in years at 4.7pc, which wiped 0.3 of a percentage point off the overall growth figure.

The prospects for the recovery now focus on the service sector and whether business confidence can withstand the ongoing squeeze on households, said analysts at HSBC, who think the risks mean an interest rate rise should be avoided this year.

Separately, the British Bankers' Association reported the number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to an eight-month high during March - although at 31,660, it was still 10pc off the figure seen 12 months earlier.

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