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Economic update

UK National Accounts, 4th Quarter:  Publication of the Quarterly National Accounts by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has left the estimate of growth for the UK economy compared to the previous quarter unrevised at +0.7%.  However, as a result of revisions to earlier data, growth in 2013 as a whole has been revised down to +1.7% (from +1.8% in the 2nd estimate).  The UK economy is still 1.4% smaller than it was before the recession began in in the 2nd quarter of 2008

The growth rate for the manufacturing sector in the final period of last year has been revised down slightly, to +0.6% quarter-on-quarter, but we will have to wait for the next set of detailed output numbers to see where this revision has occurred (these are due out on 8th April).  Construction output has also been revised down a little and is now estimated to have fallen by -0.2% (previously estimated as an increase of +0.2%), but there has been no change to the growth rate for the service sector which is put at +0.8% for the quarter.

You can download the ONS Statistics Bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or request it from MTA.

UK Business Investment, 4th Quarter:  The ONS has also released revised figures for investment spending;  Total business investment is now estimated to have been +2.4% higher than in the 3rd quarter of 2013 and +8.7% higher than in the final quarter of 2012.  However, for the year as a whole, total business investment in 2013 was -1.0% lower than in 2012.

Looking at the analysis by business asset, spending on “other machinery & equipment” increased by +4.9% compared to the previous quarter and was +24.3% higher than in the final period of 2012.  As with total business investment, the full year saw a fall in spending on this type of asset;  for this category, there was a reduction of -1.1% compared to 2012.  This category excludes spending on transport equipment (mainly vehicles, but also includes aircraft), dwellings, other new buildings and structures and intangible fixed assets (such as software).

You can download the ONS Statistics Bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or request it from MTA.

CBI Industrial Trends Survey, March 2014:  The latest outlook from the CBI’s survey of manufacturing shows that activity in the sector remained robust, although some indicators cooled slightly compared to February.  Output growth and the expectations for the next 3 months was strong, but softer than last month and although total order books rose slightly, export order books fell compared to February.

You can read the CBI’s press release on this survey on their web-site at http://www.cbi.org.uk/business-issues/economic-intelligence/economic-int... or request it from MTA.

CECIMO Statistical Toolbox, March 2014:  The latest edition of the CECIMO Toolbox includes the usual summary of economic news for Europe and the MT-IX series – this is CECIMO’s own tracking of share prices for 23 publically quoted machine tool manufacturers.

This edition also includes the data on machine tool orders received by manufacturers in the 4th quarter of 2013 for 8 European and 6 other countries;  this showed total orders were about +8% higher than in the previous quarter, with domestic orders slightly ahead of exports, but both on a rising trend.  There is also a report on the latest forecast which is based on the European element of the orders analysis;  this projects the trend for orders for European machine tool manufacturers, relying heavily on the input from business confidence indicators (BCI).  This foresees an improvement over the next 18 months which would take the level close to the pre-recession peak;  however, there is a risk that the current BCI and, hence the machine tool orders forecast, are too optimistic.

You can download the Toolbox from CECIMO’s web-site at www.cecimo.eu (under “latest publications”) or request it from MTA.

European Labour Costs, 2013:  Eurostat estimates that average hourly labour costs in the euro-zone economies (excluding agriculture and public administration) were €28.4 and €23.7 in the EU28 as a whole.  These figures represent increases compared to 2012 of +10.4% for the euro-zone and +10.2% for the EU28, although it is worth noting that the EU28 figure is affected by changes in exchange rate;  for example, the rate for the UK grew by +6.3% in Sterling, but fell by -0.3% when converted to euro.  Non-wage costs account for about ¼ of total labour costs, with this percentage varying from 8% in Malta up to 33% in Sweden.

The equivalent figures in 2013 for the production industries (which accounts for 24% of the whole economy) were €31.0 of the euro-zone and €24.6 in the EU28.  This figure ranges from €3.4 in Bulgaria up to €45.1 in Sweden, with the UK rate quoted as €22.5 (£19.1).

You can get the Eurostat News Release from their web-site at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/ or request it from MTA.