UK GDP: growth stalls as rising Covid cases and shortages hit recovery – as it happened

By Graeme Wearden
Shoppers in Staines-upon-Thames in July
Shoppers in Staines-upon-Thames in July Photograph: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock

Afternoon summary

Time to wrap up....here are today’s main stories:

Have a lovely weekend! We’ll be back on Monday. GW

The oil price has jumped amid reports that OPEC will likely cut its forecast for oil demand next year.

According to Reuters, two OPEC+ sources have predicted the group will revised down it 2022 oil demand growth forecast on Monday, as the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant puts the speed of a recovery in fuel use in doubt.

Reuters explains:

On Sept. 1, separate sources said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, increased its 2022 oil demand forecast to 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from 3.28 million bpd previously.

The new figure was seen as optimistic by some in the group, likely prompting revisions, the two OPEC+ sources said. OPEC is scheduled to make its latest supply and demand forecasts public in a report on Monday.

Weaker demand could make producers more reluctant to increase supply, which could keep the market tight, supporting prices.

Supplies are currently disrupted by Hurricane Ida, with producers in the Gulf of Mexico struggling to bring production back online.

Crude prices are higher: with Brent crude gaining $1.5 per barrel (2%) to around $73, and US crude jumping 2.3% to $69.75.

In New York, stocks have opened higher after some choppy sessions this week.

Investors are welcoming the news that Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have spoken overnight, in their first phone call for seven months.

The Dow Jones industrial average has gained 105 points, or 0.3%, rising to 34,985 points

The tech-focused Nasdaq is 0.5% higher, up 85 points at 15,334.

That follows gains in Europe and Asia-Pacific markets today.

Kyle Rodda of IG explains that “reports of an amicable phone call” between Xi and Biden about economic ties reassured traders.

Obviously, that issue isn’t a major concern for the markets right now. But it’s nice to hear, especially amidst what is the higher level issue of a back end of 2021 that might see the global economy expand at a slower pace than previously discounted.

Back in the UK, the consumer watchdog has called for much tougher government vetting of private companies selling Covid-19 tests to travellers, following revelations about poor service from “rogue” operators that it said had resulted in a lottery for customers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the market for PCR tests, in which private businesses apply for inclusion on a government-approved list, was not working and risked causing a “race to the bottom” among companies touting for customers.

The intervention comes amid concern about the quality of service provided by testing companies, who are thought to have made sales of more than £500m since mid-May, when non-essential international travel resumed.

The Guardian has previously revealed that companies who appeared on the government’s list of approved suppliers lost customers’ test kits, failed to provide results and withheld refunds. Customers have said they ended up sourcing free kits from the NHS, increasing costs for the health service due to the failings of the private sector.

In Canada, the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.1% after firms created an extra 90,200 jobs in August.

US producer prices hotter than expected in August

Over in the US, prices at the factory gate and those charged by services firms continued to rise last month, as supply chain disruption kept pushing up costs.

The Producer Price Index for final demand (which measures what producers charged for their goods and services) increased by 0.7% in August, ahead of forecasts.

That’s a slowdown on July and June, when prices rose 1% each month.

Services prices rose 0.7% in the month, while goods were up 1%.

On an annual basis, producer prices jumped by 8.3% over the 12 months to August, the biggest rise since the survey began in November 2010.

That’s an illustration that inflationary pressures remain strong in the US economy (where consumer price inflation is a 13-year high).

Core PPI (stripping out food and energy) jumped 0.6% during August, and was 6.7% higher than a year ago.

Full story: UK trade with EU falls as Brexit and Covid drive down exports

Britain’s trade with the EU fell sharply in July, with Brexit and the global pandemic driving exports £1.7bn lower than in July 2018 and imports falling by £3bn, according to official data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the fall was largely driven by declines in medicinal and pharmaceutical products, which have been particularly hit by the need for separate regulatory approval post Brexit.

Experts said the latest ONS figures could be a sign that the UK is losing its overall competitiveness.

Compared with 2018, which the ONS describes as the most recent “stable” period in UK trade, the change in trading levels is stark.

In July, total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, fell by £300m because of a £900m (6.5%) fall in exports to the EU, the ONS said.

At the same time, exports to non-EU countries increased by £700m, not enough to compensate for the overall fall....

More here:

NIESR: growth to pick up after Delta hit

Economic thinktank NIESR predicts that UK growth will have picked up in August and September, after rather fizzling out in July.

They forecast growth of 0.7% in August, thanks to the domestic tourism and hospitality industries.

And this month, growth is seen picking up to 0.8%, with the return of many office workers, particularly in London, boosting both the transport and hospitality sectors.

That would give growth of 1.6% in the third quarter overall, much lower than the 4.8% seen in April-June.

Rory Macqueen, Principal Economist - Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting, said:

“GDP growth of under 0.1 per cent in July would have been negative had it not been for the reopening of an oil field previously closed for temporary maintenance.

There was also relatively good news for the arts and recreation sector, thanks to the lifting of restrictions on 19th July, but clearly the boost to GDP from reopening had slowed by the summer.

The Delta variant and supply issues – some but not all of which are linked to Covid-19 – have also provided headwinds to growth in the third quarter but there remains potential for ‘catch-up’ in transport, hospitality and arts, which remained between 7 and 19 per cent below their February 2020 levels.”

Bloomberg: Typhoon Chanthu could add to shipping issues

Typhoon Chanthu intensifying in the Philippine Sea
Typhoon Chanthu intensifying in the Philippine Sea Photograph: Nasa Handout/EPA

Global supply chains have already been shaken by Covid-19, and the Suez canal blockage this year.

Now, a typhoon is threatening further disruption, possibly jolting the pre-Christmas shipping rush.

Bloomberg explains:

Two of China’s main ports are preparing for the arrival of Typhoon Chanthu, which was dumping heavy rain on the north of the Philippines Friday as it headed toward Taiwan and the Chinese coast.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration has issued a warning for Fujian province, where Xiamen Port is located, asking ships to adjust navigation plans and leave typhoon-affected waters. The Ningbo Maritime Safety Administration, which covers Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, said Thursday it had started a level-four emergency response.

Taiwan’s weather bureau issued a sea warning Friday for the area south of the island. However the port of Kaohsiung port is operating normally, a port spokesman said Friday afternoon when contacted by phone.

Ports in Asia have emerged as one of the bottlenecks for global trade, as European and U.S. demand for goods overwhelms the capacity of docks and ships. Covid has also affected the ability of shipping companies to operate smoothly, with crews being stricken and China closing two separate ports in recent months after outbreaks among dock workers.

Any shutdown due to weather, even a temporary one, would likely further slow supply chains which are already stretched as exporters attempt to ship more ahead of the holiday season.

In other sign of economic slowdown, new bank lending in China rose less than expected in August from a nine-month low seen in July.

Chinese banks extended 1.22 trillion yuan ($189.51 billion) in new yuan loans in August, falling short of analysts’ expectations, according to data released by the People’s Bank of China on Friday.

This will add to the debate on whether Beijing should deploy more stimulus to shore up slowing growth, as Covid-19 infections hit its economy.

Reuters: China Aug new bank loans rise to 1.22 trln yuan, miss forecast

Back in the markets, metal prices continue to climb, lifted by strong demand, dwindling inventories, and supply worries.

Nickel prices jumped to a record high in Shanghai, and also touched a new seven-year high in London on Friday. That’s going to push up raw material costs -- with nickel an important part of electric car batteries, as well as in stainless steel.

Reuters has the details

The most-traded October nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange advanced as much as 4.1% to 155,140 yuan ($24,065.40) a tonne.

Three-month nickel on the London Metal Exchange hit $20,705 a tonne, its highest since May 2014, before easing to trade at $20,550 a tonne, still up 1.8% at 0350 GMT.

Aluminium has touched a new 13-year high, lifted by ongoing supply concerns as China curbs energy use by its smelters, and the coup in bauxite producer Guinea.

July’s growth stumble is a “clear sign that the recovery is not complete”, and that the economy needs continued support through the pandemic, says Krishan Shah, researcher at Resolution Foundation, in this informative thread:

UK economic growth could remain disappointing for some time, warns Charles Hepworth, investment director at GAM Investments:

“The UK economy grew much less than forecast in July with GDP expanding just 0.1% against expectations of a 0.5% increase and against the 1% advance seen in the month of June.

The continual uptick in virus case numbers along with the “pingdemic’ leading to staff shortages were cited by the ONS as contributory factors along with the continual supply side issues. It is now unlikely that the Bank of England’s forecast of 3% growth in the third quarter will be met.

More of these growth disappointments will surely follow for the UK economy for the foreseeable future.”

The owner of the Real Greek and Franco Manca restaurant chains said business is picking up week by week, with trading up more than a quarter over pre-pandemic levels as tourists and office workers begin to return to city centres.

The Fulham Shore, which owns 75 restaurants, said that revenues across its chains increased by 27% in the three weeks to 5 September compared with the same period in 2019.

The company, which last month said it planned to open as many as 150 new restaurants over the next few years, said this was a significant surge in business compared with the 8% revenue increase over pre-pandemic levels it had seen in the eight-week period to 15 August.

Business in London, where Fulham Shore operates 17 restaurants in the West End and city centre office locations, remains down on pre-coronavirus levels but continues “to see a week-by-week improvement in footfall and revenues as tourists and office workers have started to return”.

More here.

UK exports to EU fell in July

The latest trade data shows that UK exports to the European Union fell in July.

The ONS reports that total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, fell by around £300m in July 2021 because of a £900m (6.5%) fall in exports to the EU.

That was due to weaker sales of medicinal and pharmaceutical products, including a drop in Covid-19 vaccination components to Belgium.

The ONS says labour shortages may be a factor:

Growing numbers of people were asked by the NHS Test and Trace app to self-isolate in July which led to staff shortages across all industries.

Self-isolation, coupled with loss of EU drivers in the workforce after Brexit, has caused a significant shortage of HGV drivers potentially attributing to falling exports.

This drop in EU exports more than wiped out an increase in exports to non-EU countries, thanks to stronger demand for UK-made machinery and transport equipment, and fuel.

UK imports (again, stripping out precious metals) dipped by £100m -- entirely due to fall in imports from EU countries -- mainly ‘miscellaneous’ items like clothing and footwear, machinery, transport equipment, and food and live animals

UK trade data to July 2021
UK trade data to July 2021 Photograph: ONS

James Sproule, Chief Economist of Handelsbanken in the UK, says:

There has been growing evidence that UK exports have not been doing as well as might have been hoped in joining the upswing in global trade. This is undoubtedly in part a longer term Brexit effect, in part an indication that trade deals, whilst welcome, do not mean trade automatically flows as a result.”

The British Chambers of Commerce is also concerned -- pointing out that trade between the UK and the European Union is weaker than three years ago (before Brexit or the pandemic disrupted trade patterns).

The BCC’s head of trade Policy William Bain said:

“Exports to the EU fell in July, largely driven by falls in medicinal and pharmaceutical sales. Although there was evidence of an increase in exports to the EU in the second quarter of the year compared with the first, the most striking comparisons are with three years ago, before pandemic and Brexit factors took hold.

“This provides a less favourable comparison, with EU imports £3bn lower and exports to the EU £1.7bn lower in July 2021 than in July 2018.

“The data also points to the effects labour shortages, particularly among HGV drivers, are having on exports. We will be keeping a close eye on the next set of data, in October, to assess the impact this is having on food imports.

“Overall, the figures remain concerning. Taken in conjunction with German trade data from earlier this week, the UK is clearly doing less trade with the EU than 3 years ago. SMEs and other businesses will want to see steps being taken by the UK Government and the EU to help improve this situation in the coming months.”

Despite the UK’s slowdown, stocks have risen in the City this morning.

The FTSE 100 has gained 21 points, or 0.3%, to 7045 points, after sliding 1% yesterday amid global growth worries.

However, travel stocks and housebuilders are weaker - with British Airways parent company IAG down 1.6%, leading the fallers.

The pound’s picked up too -- rising half a cent against a generally weaker US dollar.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, says news that US president Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have spoken by phone for the first time in months has reassured investors:

“A big miss on UK GDP expectations didn’t do any harm to the pound, with the currency rising 0.2% against the US dollar to $1.3862. In turn, the main indices on the UK shrugged off the news.

“The FTSE 250, which is more focused on UK domestic businesses, nudged 0.1% ahead to 23,830 while the more international-focused FTSE 100 advanced 0.3% to 7,047.

“Helping to steady the ship was a conversation between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping where they discussed the need to ensure competition doesn’t veer into conflict. The fact the two parties are engaging is a positive and perhaps long overdue, given this was only Biden’s second call with Xi since coming into power.

The UK’s slowdown should dampen suggestions that the Bank of England slowing its QE stimulus programme early, says Professor Costas Milas of the University of Liverpool’s Management School.

He tells us:

Today’s GDP reading suggests that, in July 2021, GDP remained 2.4% below its pre-pandemic level (October to December 2019 average), barely up from 2.5% in June.

This, despite the significant easing of pandemic restrictions.

UK mobility and restrictions data
UK mobility and restrictions data Photograph: Professor Costas Milas

UK GDP correlates strongly with Google mobility data; the latter being a proxy for the expenditure of consumers.

Yet (as the chart shows), average mobility follows a ‘W-pattern’ of recovery, in sharp contrast to GDP which follows a ‘Nike-Swoosh’ type of recovery. In other words, short-term movements in GDP remain very uncertain as other factors, including the pace of international recovery and the rollout of a booster vaccine dose (which will dictate whether pandemic restrictions will re-emerge) have a role to play.

All in all, the very slow recovery puts to bed, for the time being, any talk about Quantitative Easing tapering...

Emma Mogford, fund manager at Premier Miton Monthly Income Fund, warns that hiking national insurance to fund NHS and social care spending could also hit growth:

“As the UK adjusts to a new post lock-down normal, GDP growth has slowed.

The key question will be how the recent income tax hike will impact growth in the future. This week the market voted that the impact would be negative, as the share price of economically sensitive companies such as house-builders fell.”

Updated

The Financial Times points out that the UK economy would actually have contracted in July if it was not for a 22% expansion in mining and quarrying, boosted by the reopening of an oilfield after temporary closure for maintenance.

Full story: UK economic recovery stalled in July amid worker shortages

Britain’s economic recovery from the winter lockdown virtually stalled in July despite the removal of most pandemic restrictions, amid a fall in retail sales and the impact of ‘pingdemic’ shortages in the workforce.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) grew by only 0.1% in July from a month earlier, as the government’s end to most restrictions in England failed to offset the fallout from the coronavirus Delta variant.

It was lower than the 0.6% growth forecast by City economists, and a sharp slowdown compared with June when the economy grew by 1%.

UK GDP grew by only 0.1% in July 2021 and remains 2.1% below its pre-pandemic level
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Guardian graphic | Source: ONS

Service sector activity, which accounts for 80% of the economy, recorded no growth overall on the month, as the return of music festivals and sport was outweighed by a sharp drop in high street spending and a decline in the legal sector linked to the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Rising costs and shortages of raw materials triggered a fall in the construction sector, while manufacturing remained broadly flat as firms struggled to fill staff vacancies in July amid a lack of suitable applicants and a reduced number of EU workers.

The figures come as business leaders sound the alarm over the economic recovery as shortages of workers and materials fuels the worst supply chain meltdown since the 1970s, threatening to delay the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

Here’s the full story:

Economist Julian Jessop points out that the end of lockdown restrictions in England in mid-July didn’t deliver a bounce...and may even have dampened consumer spending.

These charts show how the UK’s service sector stalled in July....

UK service sector growth, July 2021
UK service sector growth, July 2021 Photograph: ONS

...while construction contracted as firms struggled to obtain materials...

UK construction growth, to July 2021
UK construction growth, to July 2021 Photograph: ONS

...and the reopening of an oil field boosted industrial production..

UK industrial production, to July 2021
UK industrial production, to July 2021 Photograph: ONS

The UK now faces a ‘tougher phase’ of the recovery, warns Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.

“Growth should have picked up in August. Lower infection numbers and less stringent self-isolation rules will have reduced the scale of virus-related disruption. And the boost from the end of domestic COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July should have become more apparent.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the gains from the reopening of the economy are now behind us, so a tougher phase of the recovery beckons.

EY ITEM Club still believe the economy is likely to grow by more than 7% this year (which would be the fastest since the 1940s), due to strong rebounds in consumer spending and business investment.

But there are risks...

However, uncertainty about the virus, and the impact of labour and component shortages, mean risks are skewed to the downside.”

Labour: economic recovery has hit the brakes

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, says the government is complacent about the UK’s economic recovery.

She warns that the imminent £20-per-week cut to universal credit payments will hurt consumer spending, and that increasing national insurance contributions to raise £12bn for the NHS and social care will be a tax on jobs.

“People are working incredibly hard to build the recovery but Conservative complacency is holding our country back. The concerning figures today show that just as the UK economy ought to be getting back to normal, disruption to supply chains and other shortages mean our recovery is hitting the brakes.

“The Government has no plan, other than to plough ahead with a tax on jobs as well as a devastating cut to Universal Credit, taking money out of our high streets just when it is needed most.

“Labour believes we must take the chance to make our economy more secure through our plan to Buy, Make and Sell more here in the UK. The Conservatives are simply not ambitious enough about the future of our economic recovery.”

Rishi Sunak: Our recovery is well underway

Despite growth slowing to a near-standstill in July, chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, insists the recovery is “well underway”:

“Our recovery is well underway thanks to the success of the vaccination rollout and the roadmap, with more employees on payrolls that at any point since last March.

“I am confident that – supported by our Plan for Jobs – we’ll continue to recover from the pandemic, we’ll see more new jobs, and we will Build Back Better.”

More encouragingly, Kitty Ussher, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, expects the economy to “continue its upward trend” this autumn:

The final lifting of restrictions on July 19th led to an expansion in the entertainment sector, but this was offset by a correction in the legal, real estate and professional services sector where the partial ending of the stamp duty discount at the end of June had caused many people to scramble to complete sales on time.

“It also looks as if England’s thrilling run in the UEFA European Cup had boosted growth in June, leading to a bit of fall-back in July.

“Going forwards, we expect the economy to continue its upward trend: the vaccine roll-out has allowed schools to start the new term with less curbs on their activity, there is every reason to think that the autumn will also be strong.

“Any shadows that do exist will now come from where transportation and labour shortages may start to affect businesses’ practical ability to trade or the cost of doing so.”

Ed Monk, associate director at Fidelity International, agrees that the recovery in the UK economy has stalled.

He also cautions that we’re probably not seeing the full impact of the supply chain crisis yet:

Growth of just 0.1% in July marks a significant slowdown and it’s a concern that most areas of the economy were flat across the month - only production showed a positive reading while services and manufacturing were flat, and construction fell. It now looks like the wait for the UK to regain the ground lost since the start of the pandemic will last well into next year.

“What’s concerning is that these numbers may not yet be showing the full effect of sustained supply-chain bottlenecks. The problem spans multiple sectors, with concerns growing over shortages in manufacturing and construction materials, as prices of concrete, aluminium, steel, timber, and fuel continue to rise. Speaking to MPs on the commons Treasury committee this week, Andrew Bailey confirmed supply-chain issues and a shortage of workers could see a ‘levelling off of the recovery’.

“These issues are likely to be addressed as part of the Treasury’s spending review and Budget announcement next month. Failure to adequately address these issues risks undoing much of its hard work over the course of the pandemic.”

Capital Economics: Rising virus cases and shortages stall the recovery

Reaction to the UK’s worrying economic slowdown is pouring in - and it is not a cheery picture.

Paul Dales of Capital Economics says the recovery has stalled, as rising cases of Covid-19 and shortages of supply and labour hit growth.

More timely evidence suggests August may not have been much better, he warns.

For the first time since February, services output didn’t rise and instead stagnated with a 0.0% change in July. Not all of this is due to increased consumer caution due to the recent rise in virus cases – arts & entertainment output rose by 9.0% m/m as the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on 19th July meant people flooded back to sports events, theme parks and festivals.

But accommodation & food output rose by only 1.1% m/m and we already knew that retail sales fell by 2.5% m/m.

Shortages are probably also to blame, Dales adds:

Admittedly, industrial production rose by a decent 1.2% m/m. But that was mainly due to a 21.9% m/m leap in mining output due to the reopening of an oil field that was previously closed for maintenance. Without that, there was no change in manufacturing output at all. The 11.4% m/m rise in car production, however, does suggest that the drag on output from the semiconductor shortage may be starting to ease.

There’s no such glimmer of hope for construction, where the 1.6% m/m fall in output in July was the largest of four falls in four months. Part of that is surely due to shortages.

And with growth slowing, and inflation expected to rise sharply, there is “a whiff of stagflation in the air” he adds.

Updated

Jonathan Athow, the UK’s deputy national statistician, says there was ‘little growth overall’ in the UK economy in July.

UK GDP: service sector and manufacturing both stalled

Britain’s services sector, which makes up roughly three quarters of the economy, failed to grow at all in July.

That’s mainly due to a 2.5% fall in retail trade, the ONS says, which was only partially offset by a 72.5% growth in travel agency, tour operator and other related reservation services

Manufacturing also failed to grow during the month, with the ONS pointing to staff shortages (partly due to self-isolation) as one factor:

The manufacturing sector remained broadly flat in July 2021, after five consecutive months of growth, with anecdotal evidence from businesses responding to the Monthly Business Survey suggesting staff shortages (including COVID-19 self-isolation requirements) as a challenge to production.

Industrial output grew by 1.2%, boosted by the return to production of an oil field which had been temporarily closed for planned maintenance.

And construction output fell by 1.6%, with firms reporting delays in the availability and sourcing of construction products (notably steel, concrete, timber and glass).

Updated

Weakest growth since January

Growth in July was the weakest since January (when GDP fell as the UK economy was in lockdown).

It suggests that the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spread, had a sharp impact on growth during July.

UK GDP
UK GDP Photograph: ONS

The UK economy has now expanded for six months in a row, as pandemic restrictions have been eased.

The UK GDP report is rather worse than economists expected:

GDP: UK economic growth slows to just 0.1% in July

BREAKING! UK economic growth came to a near-standstill in July, as supply chain problems and the pingdemic hit activity.

GDP rose by only 0.1% in the month, much weaker than expected, the Office for National Statistics reports, and a sharp slowdown on June’s 1% growth.

That leaves the UK economy still 2.1% below its pre-coronavirus pandemic level in February 2020, and will fuel concerns that the recovery is faltering.

Growth slowed sharply during the month, in which firms reported staff shortages as some employees were forced to self-isolate.

Companies also faced supply chain disruption, from the shortage of lorry drivers to ongoing problems obtaining raw materials and components such as computer chips.

The ONS reports that:

  • Production output increased by 1.2% in July 2021 and was the main contributor to GDP growth; boosted by the reopening of an oil field production site, which was previously temporarily closed for planned maintenance.
  • Construction contracted for a fourth consecutive month, with output down by 1.6% in July 2021, and is now 1.8% below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).
  • Services output remained broadly flat in July 2021, and remains 2.1% below its pre-pandemic level (February 2020).
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation activities grew by 9.0%, boosted by sports clubs, amusement parks and festivals, and reflecting the easing of restrictions on social distancing from 19 July 2021.
  • Output in consumer-facing services fell by 0.3% in July 2021, its first fall since January 2021 mainly because of a 2.5% fall in retail sales.

More to follow.

Updated

We already know that July was a tough month for UK automakers. They produced the fewest cars for any July since the 1950s, as they struggled with worker absences and the global shortage of computer chips.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets

In July UK car production slumped to its worst levels since 1956, which suggests that today’s July manufacturing production numbers could well be similarly disappointing.

Various UK automakers have already announced production slowdowns due to shortages of important parts.

Introduction: UK GDP report for July

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

Today we learn how the UK economy fared in July as Covid-19 infections rose, and the burst of activity following the easing of lockdown restrictions faded.

And the latest GDP report, due at 7am, could show the economy cooling -- as labour shortages and ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic weigh on companies.

Growth is expected to have slowed to around +0.6%, following the more rapid 1% expansion in June when hospitality firms were seeing strong demand.

As Alvin Tan of RBC Capital Markets explains:

The major gains from the UK economy’s reopening have been realised.

Growth is likely to continue to ‘normalise’ through Q3, though for the quarter as a whole we still look for GDP growth of 2.7% q/q beginning with a 0.6% m/m expansion in the July monthly GDP.

A major uncertainty over the near-term outlook is what constraints raw material and labour shortages are placing on the recovery. The UK’s rules on self-isolation weren’t changed until mid-August, so what effect there was from the ‘pingdemic’ is likely to have been felt in July.

Growth fears have been weighing on the City this week, after jobs growth at US companies sharply slowed in August.

European markets are expected to open a little higher today, though, after the European Central Bank felt confident enough to slow its bond-buying stimulus programme yesterday.

Investors are also awaiting the latest US producer prices data, which will show how prices at the factory gate in America changed last month.

The agenda

  • 7am BST: UK GDP report for July
  • 7am BST: UK trade balance for July
  • 1.30pm BST: US producer price inflation report for August
  • 1.30pm BST: Canadian jobs report for August

Updated


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