We could talk negative statistics on the UK economy all day... Heck we could put on some slow jazz, open a bottle of our favourite (or strongest) alcoholic spirit and really get down to the nuts and bolts of the misery if we really wanted – it is Christmas after all. Indeed, many economists have recently predicted, not only that the economy would contract in Q4, but that it might do the same in Q1 next year, taking us into a triple-dip recession.
But if you leave statistics out of it in the broadest sense of the word, something in the latest reports does seem to suggest that, if we aren't yet out of the woods, that we can at least see where the forest might end. Or maybe it is just wishful thinking.
Anyway, the latest report that suggests a possible clearing up ahead is the ONS statistics for the construction industry in October. According to the report UK construction increased 8.3% during the month of October to end the quarter 0.7% higher than the previous 3 months. It was still down 5.1% compared to last October, but even that was positive in that it was the smallest year on year contraction since February, and less than half the 13.2% drop recorded in September.
Some economists believe that this improvement in the sector could stave off the predicted contraction in GDP for the 4th quarter, or even bring us some much needed growth. Especially given other recent positive news, such as the figures released earlier this week showing that unemployment fell again in October, and that employment was at a record high. Other reports also showed that the UK was the only place in the EU where car-registrations rose.
Last week, official government forecasts pointed to a fourth-quarter contraction in GDP. But, Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank, thought Friday's data suggested GDP could expand by 0.3pc in the fourth quarter, even if Britain's dominant services sector posted flat output.
- Friday 21 December 2012