UK 4Q GDP revised upwards - ING

UK 4Q GDP revised upwards - ING

31 March 2016, 11:48
Vasilii Apostolidi

ames Smith, Economist at ING, notes that the UK fourth quarter GDP was revised up to 0.6% QoQ, but the focus now is on the economic impact of the Brexit vote over the coming quarters.

“The final estimate of UK fourth quarter GDP surprised on the upside, with an upgrade to 0.6% QoQ from 0.5% previously. The underlying details paint a picture of an economy that continues to be driven by consumption, whilst business investment appeared to suffer (gross fixed capital formation fell by 1.1% QoQ). For us though, what is more important now is how the economy has performed in the first quarter and indeed how it evolves over the coming months, with the forthcoming vote on EU membership drawing closer.

With considerable uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the vote, it is possible that businesses temporarily hold off on hiring/investment plans until the result is clearer. Whilst it is probably too early to be seeing evidence of this in the “hard data” (ie GDP, industrial production etc), the question now is to what degree the uncertainty surrounding the outcome is affecting business/consumer confidence. 

We will get a bit more clarity on this from the UK PMIs (manuf. on Friday and services next week). The consensus is looking for a slight pickup, after a large decline last month – the assumption presumably being that market turmoil/global growth concerns were largely to blame, which have since died down to some degree. A sub-consensus figure would reflect the fact that the Brexit story has come into sharper focus, with arguably more political noise since the last survey in February.

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If the UK votes to remain in the EU, our base case is that, conditional on the dataflow post-referendum, the Bank of England could raise interest rates as early as November. However, if the UK votes to leave, then there is a possibility that the BoE cuts rates to pre-empt any potential economic volatility.”

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