UK economy shrinks as Brexit looms

Britain will exit from the European Union later this month. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

UK economy shrinks as Brexit looms

  • Gross domestic product — the combined value of all goods and services produced in the economy — slid 0.1 percent in August from July

LONDON: Britain’s economy contracted in August, official data showed Thursday ahead of the nation’s exit from the European Union later this month.
Gross domestic product — the combined value of all goods and services produced in the economy — slid 0.1 percent in August from July, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.
That contrasted with upwardly-revised monthly expansion of 0.4 percent in July.
On a brighter note however, the ONS also revealed that the economy grew 0.3 percent in the three months to August compared with the previous quarter.
“Growth increased in the latest three months, despite a weak performance across manufacturing, with TV and film production helping to boost the services sector,” said Rob Kent-Smith, head of GDP at the ONS.
Sterling barely budged on the monthly reading, which was only moderately worse than market expectations of zero growth.
“The most recent GDP readings from the UK have shown a contraction in month-on-month terms — but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, it does not appear quite so bad,” noted XTB analyst David Cheetham.


Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

Updated 19 min ago

Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

  • US retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months adding to economy fears

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Thursday as industry data showed a larger than expected increase in US inventories but losses were limited after Britain and the EU announced they had reached a deal on Brexit.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down 37 cents at $59.05 in afternoon London trade while US WTI crude was also down 37 cents, at $52.99.

US crude inventories soared by 10.5 million barrels to 432.5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 11, the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly report showed, ahead of official government stocks data.

Analysts had estimated US crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week.

“US sanctions imposed on Chinese shipping company COSCO are seriously denting demand for imported crude ... This has a profound impact on US crude oil inventories as reflected in last night’s API report,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates.

“US refinery maintenance is not helping to reverse the current trend and further builds in US crude oil inventories can be expected in the next few weeks.”

The US imposed sanctions on COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) and subsidiary COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman & Ship Management for allegedly carrying Iranian oil.

Adding to concerns about the global economy — and therefore oil demand — data from the US showed retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months. Earlier data showed a moderation in job growth and services sector activity.

Nevertheless, Brexit developments helped limit oil’s decline. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain and the EU had agreed a “great” new deal and urged lawmakers to approve it when they meet for a special session at the weekend.

Analysts have said any agreement that avoids a no-deal Brexit should boost economic growth and oil demand.

However, the Northern Irish party whose support Johnson needs to help ratify any agreement, has said that it refused to support the pact.

Hopes of a potential US-China trade deal also supported oil. The commerce ministry in Beijing said China hoped to reach a phased agreement with Washington as early as possible.

But the German government has lowered its 2020 forecast for economic growth to 1 percent from 1.5 percent, the economy ministry said. It said Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was not facing a crisis.