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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

UK GDP, 4th Quarter 2016:  The second estimate by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has seen an upward revision in the quarter-on-quarter growth rate for the UK economy at the end of 2016 to +0.7% (from +0.6% in the preliminary estimate).  However, what has actually happened is that the data throughout 2016 has been revised downwards and the increase in the growth rate is because of a larger reduction in GDP in the 3rd quarter than in the 4th period of the year.

As a result, the UK economy growth rate for 2016 has been revised down to +1.8% (+2.0% in the initial release of data last month).  For the 4th quarter at least, this appears mainly to be a reflection of a divergence in the trends between the 3 measures of GDP - output, income and expenditure.  The initial estimate is based only on the output measures, but the other two measures are brought into the second estimate (just published for Q4-16) and the expenditure estimate is weaker in 2016 compared with the other two approaches;  in part this is due to changes in inventories (much reduced compared to 2014 and 2015) and trade in goods (but see last week’s report on the trade data where we noted that erratic items are affecting the trends for UK trade).

If you are interested in further reading on this latest data, you can download the ONS Statistical bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk (click on “release calendar”) or request it from MTA.

CBI Industrial Trends Survey, February 2017:  The latest results from the CBI survey show a further strengthening of demand for UK manufactured goods, with another improvement in total order books.  Output continued to expand at “an elevated pace” and expectations for production levels in the next 3 months accelerated even further to the fastest rate since September 2013.

The improvement in total order books appears to have come from the domestic market with export orders broadly stable, albeit at a high level.  Among the 18 sub-sectors covered by the CBI, half reported stronger demand led, encouragingly, by Mechanical Engineering (Machinery) and Metal Products industries.

You can download the CBI’s News Release from their web-site at www.cbi.org.uk/news (dated 20th February) or request it and a brief summary of the survey results from MTA.

UK Business Investment, 4th Quarter 2016:  The ONS has also released the preliminary data on investment spending at the end of 2016 and, therefore, for the year as a whole.

Total Business Investment was -1.0% lower than in the 3rd quarter of the year and for 2016 it declined by -1.5% compared to the previous year.  At this stage, we don’t have a breakdown by industry, but there is an analysis by type of asset and spending on ICT & Other Machinery (which accounts for about ⅓ of total business investment) fell by -2.6% in the 4th quarter and by -1.5% for the year overall.

Again, you can download the ONS Statistical bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk (click on “release calendar”) or request it from MTA.

CECIMO Statistical Toolbox, December 2016:  The latest edition of the CECIMO Toolbox is now available - as usual, it covers a range of general economic data at a European level, as well as statistics from CECIMO on orders, trade and production for machine tools.  These reports now contain the latest information on all the regular topics, although in some cases this does mean that the individual items are unchanged from the previous edition or only have some amended analysis.

One new item this month is the report on CECIMO’s latest Barometer Survey.  This reflects an increase in the percentage balance for companies reporting a “good business situation” and in line with this development, export expectations also increased.  Unsurprisingly, the main constraint on business is a “lack of orders”, but reporting of this declined compared to the previous survey and the joint 2nd most important constraints are “a shortage of skilled labour” and “lack of access to potential; customers”.

You can download the CECIMO Statistical Toolbox report from their web-site at http://www.cecimo.eu/site/publications or request it from MTA;  we have a mailing list for those companies who would like this on a regular basis - if you would like to be added to this, please contact Geoff Noon (gnoon@mta.org.uk).