Written by Dominic Williams.

UK GDP figures were released by the Office for National Statistics last Thursday, showing that the UK economy expanded by 0.2 per cent in August. This marks a reversal from the 0.6 per cent decline observed in July, which had been revised down from the initially reported 0.5 per cent decline. As a whole, the service sector,  was the sole positive contributor to this growth, rising by 0.4 per cent in August. However, consumer-facing services experienced a decrease of 0.6 per cent, indicating that the central bank’s interest rate increases are beginning to impact consumers. Production output saw the most significant decrease, falling by 0.7 per cent, following a decline of 1.1 per cent in July 2023 (which was also revised down from the initially reported 0.7 per cent). Construction also fell by 0.5 per cent. The three-month average GDP figure for August was also released, indicating a growth rate of 0.3 per cent. This figure can be considered a more stable measure compared to the month-on-month figures. Furthermore, this data suggests that the UK is not likely to enter a recession in 2023, as defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The world’s two largest economies reported contrasting inflation figures over the past week. In the US, September’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) exceeded expectations, remaining unchanged at 3.7 per cent year-on-year. However, the core measure, which excludes food and energy, decreased from 4.3 per cent to 4.1 per cent year-on-year, the lowest reading since September 2021. The higher-than-expected headline rate might signal a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. In contrast, China reported CPI figures that remained unchanged year-on-year, falling short of the consensus expectations of a 0.2 per cent increase. The most significant drop was observed in food prices, which fell by 3.2 per cent, driven by a sharp decline in pork prices (China being the largest consumer of pork globally). These figures suggest persistent deflationary pressures and raise concerns about the strength of the economic recovery due to sluggish demand.

In other news, in Marrakesh, Morocco, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held their annual meetings. The IMF unveiled their outlook for global economic growth, predicting a slowdown. It anticipates a decline from 3.5 per cent last year to 3 per cent this year, further decreasing to 2.9 per cent next year, marking a 0.1 per cent downgrade from their previous 2024 estimate. Global inflation is also projected to decrease from 6.9 per cent this year to 5.8 per cent next year, however this is an increase of 0.6 percentage points above their previous forecast. While central bank rate hikes are credited with some success in controlling price pressures, the IMF expects that over 90 per cent of economies with an inflation target are expected to remain above target.

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