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ECONOMIC NEWS

European Industrial Production, September 2018:  The latest data from Eurostat shows that total industrial production in the Euro-zone fell by -0.3% compared to August but was +0.9% higher than a year earlier.  For the EU28, the trends were -0.2% and +1.1% respectively.

However, output of the capital goods industries in the Euro-zone were +0.3% higher than in August - the only sub-sector to see month-on-month growth - making the level +2.5% higher than in September 2017.  Again, for the EU28, the changes were +0.1% and +2.4% respectively;  in both cases, the increase compared to 12-months earlier was the fastest of the sub-sectors of industrial production.

Looking at the 12-month trend, among the 25 Member States who have published their figures, total industrial output increased in 14 of them and fell in the other 11, although two of the latter were only -0.1%.  The fastest growth was in Ireland (+9.4%) and Poland (+5.0%), while the largest falls were in Malta (-5.3%) and Croatia (-2.6%).

You can download the Eurostat News Release from their web-site at https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/news/news-releases (14 November) or request it from MTA.

European GDP, 3rd Quarter 2018:  The flash estimate from Eurostat shows that the Euro-zone economy grew by +0.2% in the 3rd quarter of 2018, giving an annualised rate of +1.7%.  The EU28 did slightly better with a quarter-on-quarter growth rate of +0.3% and an annualised rate of +1.9%.

This is the first release with country detail and perhaps most surprising is that the German economy contracted by -0.2% compared to the previous quarter, slowing their overall annual growth rate to +1.2%.  Of the other countries to have published their data, only Lithuania had a negative quarter-on-quarter trend (-0.4%), while the fastest growing economies on this basis were Romania (+1.9%), Latvia (+1.8%) and Poland (+1.7%).

With all of the economies having expanded in the 2nd quarter, no-one was in recession and all of the annualised growth rates that have been published were positive;  Poland (+5.7%) and Latvia (+5.5%) again led the way.

You can download the Eurostat News Release from their web-site at https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/news/news-releases (14 November) or request it from MTA.

UK Business Investment, 3rd Quarter 2018:  With the publication of the UK’s first estimate of GDP for the 3rd Quarter last week, we also got our first indicator about investment in this period.  Although we don’t have the industry detail for a few weeks, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that total business investment fell by -1.2% compared to the 2nd quarter and was -1.9% lower than in the 3rd period of 2017;  the rolling 4-quarter rate (comparing the most recent 4 quarters with the previous 4) was still positive, but with Q4-17 (and Q1-18) having been strong, unless we get a repeat in the final period of this year, then we are likely to see 2018 as a whole in negative territory.

The only detail we have at this stage is some information on spending by asset type.  In particular, the “ICT and Machinery” category showed an increase of +0.3% on the previous quarter - not great, but better than for investment overall;  however, this was -0.2% lower than in the equivalent period in 2017 and although the 4-quarter rolling trends was up by +1.1%, a strong end to 2017 means that the year as a whole could well be negative when we get the data in 3 months.

You can download the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at https://www.ons.gov.uk/releasecalendar (08 November) or request it from MTA.

UK Trade, 3rd Quarter 2018:  The other piece of data that came with the GDP estimate, was detail of UK trade (exports and imports) for the 3rd quarter.  The quarterly trade deficit for goods fell with a modest increase in imports being outweighed by a large rise in exports compared to the 2nd period of the year.  the deficit of £31.9 billion is the lowest quarterly total since the 2nd quarter of 2016.

Both exports (£90.9 billion) and imports (£122.7 billion) set new quarterly records.  The largest increases were in trade outside of the European Union, but with both series seeing a similar increase the deficit was broadly unchanged.  It is in trade with the EU that the deficit fell with a modest rise in exports and a fall in imports both contributing to the quarter-on-quarter reduction in the deficit.

By commodity, cars had the largest impact on the overall data;  this was a combination of an increase of £1.0 billion in shipments to non-EU countries and a fall in imports from the EU of -£1.7 billion.  However, this is may have been a temporary phenomenon related to the changes in emissions regulations within the EU.

Other contributions to the trends in trade with the EU were an increase of £1.1 billion in the export of fuels (mostly oil) and a £1.2 billion fall in imports of machinery & transport equipment (this wide category includes cars which is the source of most of this impact).  For the non-EU countries, we have already mentioned the increased level of exports of cars, but there was also a fall of £1.3 billion in imports of “unspecified goods”.

You can get more details by downloading the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at https://www.ons.gov.uk/releasecalendar (08 November) or request it from MTA.