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|ECONOMIC GROWTH The economy grew by 0.6% in the third quarter, its fastest for two years, but the positive number was soured by a third quarter of falling business investment. The Office for National Statistics said that the growth in total output compared with the second quarter was the fastest performance since the first quarter of 2016, when the economy surged by 0.7%. Englands showing in the World Cup,and sunny weather fueled a feelgood factor among consumers that pushed up retails sale together with a recovery in construction in July, produced a surge in the economy in the first month of the period.
BOOMING JOBS MARKET The number of new hires reached "near record rates" last moth, but companies had to pay more to secure them, a report has found. The latest monthly survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed that the number of people placed into permanent jobs in the UK rose at a "sharp and accelerated rate" in October, while recruitment agency billings for temporary workers expanded at the fastest rate since May. Niel Carberry, chief executive at the confederation, said:"With the jobs market so heated, businesses across the country, of all types are struggling to find work-ready staff...Some clients tell us they are seeing the worst period of staff availability for 20 years"
MANUFACTURING SUFFERING Manufacturing suffered its worst month for two years in October as factories were hit by rising global trade tensions and mounting Brexit uncertainty. The purchasing Managers index for manufacturing, a closely watched economic gauge, slid to 51.1 in October from 53.6 in September, where a reading above 50 indicates growth. It was the lowest result since July 2016, immediately after the Brexit referendum, and worse than all economic forecasts. Britains manufacturers, which account for a tenth of national output, are technically in recession and signs are that that the bad year will continue." October saw a worrying turnaround in the performance of the UK manufacturing sector" said Rob Dobson, director of IHS Markit which compiles the survey with the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.
NEW HOMES There has been a surge in activity by housebuilders, who have registered the highest number of new homes since the financial crisis. The National House Building Council said that 43,578 new homes had been registered in the third quarter,the highest number in any quarter since 2007.The number was 15% higher than in the same period last year.
CONSUMER BORROWING Growth in consumer credit, which includes credit cards and personal loans, eased to 7.7% in September, the lowest.level since 2015, and fell to £800 million last month, from £1.2 billion in August. Consumer borrowing is growing at its slowest pace in more that three years, according to official Bank of England figures that suggest that the household borrowing binge has run its course.
BUOYANT SERVICE SECTOR A solid month for the powerhouse services sector has put the economy on track to match second-quarter growth of 0.4% in the three months to September. The purchasing managers index for services fell from 54.3 in August to 53.9 last month, slightly below expectations. Any reading above 50 indicates growth. With the full set of private sector surveys for the quarter now complete, including manufacturing and construction, economists expect growth to have maintained the pace achieved in the three months to June.
FALLING EXPORT ORDERS Manufacturing export orders have fallen to their lowest level since October 2017. In a survey of 409 manufacturers conducted by the CBI, a balance of only 5% said that export orders were above normal. Although the number of all factory orders remained above the long-term average, the survey suggested growth was slowing , the balance fell to -1% this month down from 7% in August. Anna Leach, of the CBI said that Brexit was "clouding the outlook".
COMPANY DEBT HITS RECORD HIGH Debt levels among Britains listed companies have hit an all time high as they loaded up on credit to pay dividends and make investments during a period of weak profitability, according to research. Net debt jumped by £123 billion over the past three years as companies paid their shareholders £263 billion in dividends, despite profitability being squeezed, dividend cover levels fell to record lows in 2016/17, reported Link Asset Services.
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.