Hammond Tries to Talk Up U.K., But Numbers Don't Back Him

Philip Hammond tried to talk up the U.K. economy, but the numbers don’t back him up. In 2021, when the U.K.’s Brexit transition will have ended, the government’s budget watchdog lowered its growth forecast. What’s more, it looks like the country is going to be paying money to the European Union for decades to come, well into 2060. The U.K. chancellor is in an bind: voters are angry after eight years of austerity but Hammond lacks the resources to be able to significantly relax the pain. At the same time his Conservative Party is deeply divided on how to tackle Brexit, and he falls firmly in the camp of those in the party that fear there is no bright side to quitting the world’s biggest trade bloc.


UK Industrial Production increased less than expected

In the three months to January 2018, the Index of Production increased by 0.2% compared with the three months to October 2017, due to a rise of 0.9% in manufacturing; this was partially offset by a decrease of 6.4% in mining and quarrying, caused mainly by the shut-down of the Forties oil pipeline within December 2017. Total production output increased by 1.4% for the three months to January 2018 compared with the same three months to January 2017; manufacturing provided the largest upward contribution with an increase of 2.6%.


UK housing stock hits record low as buyer demand wanes

The average number of properties on estate agents' books has hit a record low and is "unlikely to improve", according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics). While a typical estate agent has 42 homes on their books per branch, in London – where the nation's chronic housing shortage is most concentrated – the figure is just 33. Rics's monthly residential market survey, which gathers the views of more than 300 chartered surveyors across the country, also found that there was a prevailing trend in the lack of new buyer enquiries, new instructions and newly agreed sales.


UK service growth picks up in February

UK service providers experienced a modest rebound in business activity growth during since May 2017. The latest survey also pointed to stronger job creation across the service economy, with payroll numbers rising to the greatest extent for five months as firms sought to boost operating capacity in response to improved order books. At the same time, cost pressures moderated to their lowest for a year-and-a-half, which contributed to a further slowdown in prices charged inflation.


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