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UK economy contracts in July

Gross domestic product (GDP) figures released last month showed the UK economy shrank by a greater than expected amount in July, while forward-looking indicators suggest a recession looks ‘increasingly likely.’

The latest monthly GDP statistics produced by ONS revealed that the economy shrank by 0.5% in July. This figure was worse than all forecasts submitted to a Reuters poll of economists with the consensus prediction suggesting the economy would suffer a 0.2% contraction.

ONS said July’s weak figure partly stemmed from a reduction in output within the services sector, with this drop driven by the impact of industrial action by NHS workers and teachers. In addition, heavy rainfall across the month also hit activity in both the construction and retail industries.

The UK economy has so far avoided recession this year with positive growth numbers recorded across both the first and second quarters. New data released at the end of September confirmed that the UK's economy grew 0.2% in Q2.

The preliminary headline reading from the S&P Global/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell from 48.6 in August to 46.8 in September. This represents the sharpest fall in output since January 2021 and, excluding pandemic lockdown months, the steepest decline since the height of the global financial crisis in March 2009.

Commenting on the findings, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson said, “The steep fall in output signalled by the flash PMI data is consistent with GDP contracting at a quarterly rate of over 0.4%, with a broad-based downturn gathering momentum to hint at few hopes of any imminent improvement.”

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