United Kingdom loses 'fastest growing economy in G7' title despite fourth quarter growth

Posted February 23, 2017

The Office for National Statistics' first estimate of growth for the three months to December, released last month, was 0.6 per cent but this was revised up on Wednesday to 0.7 per cent.

Britain has lost its mantle as the world's fastest growing advanced economy despite new figures showing that the United Kingdom expanded more quickly than thought in the final three months of previous year.

Nancy Curtin, Chief Investment Officer, said: "The improved GDP revision for the final quarter of 2016 confirms that it was business as usual for the United Kingdom economy, despite the UK's momentous vote to leave the EU".

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Business investment fell 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the July-September period.

The ONS added the growth in 2016 is 1.8% higher than that in 2015, a 0.2 percentage points downward revision from the preliminary estimate. "However since Brexit, the demand for real estate has softened and it is unlikely that developers will immediately pass on the higher inflationary costs to the end customer". Admittedly, net trade made a 1.3pp contribution to quarter-on-quarter growth in GDP, but the 4.1% jump in exports depleted inventories, which subtracted 1.1pp from GDP growth.

Britain's economic resilience since last June's European Union referendum has surprised experts, who had predicted that the United Kingdom would be in dire straits if it voted to leave the bloc.

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Ross Walker, chief economist at RBS said: "The bigger challenges are now upon us with inflation rising but the economy is approaching this in more resilient shape than we expected in the middle of past year after the Referendum". It was the first fall since 2009.

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said the lower pound acted as a shock absorber, but warned that uncertainty "lies on the horizon". But business investment fell and there were signs that a tougher year lies ahead.

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