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|BUILDERS PICK UP PACE Construction rebounded last month after Marchs extreme winter weather put building projects on hold, but the improvement was not enough to brighten the general outlook. The April purchasing managers index for construction jumped to a five month high of 52.5 in April from 47.0 in March, comfortably above forecasts for 50.5 and indicated growth.
CONSUMER BORROWING City analysts have warned that the economy is facing a "credit slump" after the amount that consumers borrowed on credit cards, overdrafts and car loans collapsed in March. The Bank of England said that high street lenders had provided £300 million of credit to consumers in March down from £1.7 billion the previous month and below the monthly average of £1.5 billion since December. The figure was the smallest since 2011 and pushed the annual growth rate in consumer credit down to 8.4% from 9.4% in February. Traders believe that the Bank of England will respond to the weak economic data by holding off raising interest rates next month.
FALTERING FACTORIES Factory activity fell in March by a full point to 53.9 on a purchasing managers index, a 17 month low and far short of forecasts for 54.8. Economists said that the reading, produced by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, suggested that the recovery in manufacturing was running out of steam.
MOTOR INDUSTRY The motor industry has dipped deeper into crisis, with car production falling to a two-year low as output from British car factories plunged by 13% in March, the domestic industrys crucial month of registration plate changes.
EMPLOYMENT RATE HIGH Britons employment rate has hit a record high, joblessness is at a fresh 43 year low and wages are rising in real terms for the first time in a yea, according to the National Statistics. Earnings grew by 2.8%, while inflation drifted back to 2.7%.
BUSINESS CONFIDENCE Confidence among small businesses is picking up after gloomy 2017, with companies reporting improved trading and fresh plans for expansion and investment. More than two thirds of the 1,218 Federation of Small Businesses, responding to the federations survey said that revenues were stable or increasing. One in three said that they were planning to increase investment, a two year high. Half expected to expand operations over the next 12 months. Mike Cherry, the bodys national chairman, said, After a 2017 dogged by spiraling prices and political uncertainty, itís good to see small business confidence back in the black.
HOUSEBUILDING There was a 16% rise in the number of new homes built in 2017, as the output of housebuilders reached levels last seen in the boom tears before the financial crash a decade ago. Government figures show that 163,250 homes were completed in the year to December, compared with 140,850 the year before. The number of "starts", which is when a housebuilder lays down the foundation of a home, also rose 5% to 162,180.
HIRING CONFIDENCE Hiring confidence among British companies has reached its highest level in more than a year and recruitment is set to pick up as businesses shrug off downbeat economic projections, according to a closely watched study. Manpowers quarterly survey recorded that net optimism had climbed to +6% in the latest quarter. "Against a backdrop of turmoil in the global markets and continuoing national uncertainty, the rise in the national outlook to its strongest level in over a year has confounded expectations" James Hick, managing director for Manpowergroup Solutions, said. WIDENING SKILLS GAP Companies are facing skill shortages at critical levels that will restrain economic activity this year unless the issue is addressed, a leading business lobby group has warned.Concerns about recruitment have been mounting as unemployment fails to a 42 year low of 4.3%. Companies that recruit much of their their skilled workforce from overseas fear that the UKs departure from the European Union will make the process harder.
. RISE IN RETAILERS GOING BUST The number of retailers going into administration has risen for the first time time in five years as falling consumer confidence and rising costs take their toll on businesses.Figures compiled by Deloitte show that 118 retailers became insolvent last year, a 28% increase on 2016 when 92 firms filed for administration.
500,000 UK BUSINESSES IN DISTRESS Nearly half a million British businesses are in "significant financial distress" in what Begbies Traynor described as the calm before the storm. The number of businesses experiencing financial distress had reached "unprecedented" levels over the past 12 months. Many had "overstretched themselves" taking too many risks after being lulled into a false scene of security by the continued low interest rate environment. There were 448,011 businesses across the UK suffering significant financial distress between July and September, an increase of 27% compared with the same period last year, it said. Begbies Traynor defines businesses as having "significant" financial problems if they have minor county court judgments recorded against them, a sign they are struggling to pay bills.