UK GDP growth marginally positive, but could have been worse, says PwC
The UK economy grew by a meagre 0.2% in the second quarter of 2011, according to the initial estimates from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Fuente:  Fecha: 27.7.2011 

UK GDP growth marginally positive, but could have been worse, says PwC

Today’s growth estimate was better than many expected, but well down on the insipid Q1 growth of 0.5% and the sharp 0.5% decline in the final three months of 2010.

Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC’s chief economist in Northern Ireland, says this is challenging news for the government and particularly for some UK regions:

“The past month has delivered little in the way of heartening economic news. Consumer confidence dipped, inflation remains high, bank lending to business plummeted and the trade deficit widened.

“Today’s Q2 growth estimates are not great but at least they are not negative.

“We are not in double dip recession territory and the underlying rate of growth is probably better than today’s 0.2% growth would suggest.

“Nevertheless, based on this performance it is unlikely that the UK economy will attain the forecast 1.7% growth over the entire year and further quantitative easing or some fiscal easing remain an option.

“A number of UK regions are almost certainly limping along behind a UK average growth rate which itself is relatively low.

“Across the UK, export-led growth is critical but there are still plenty of icebergs which the global economy must navigate through."

PwC says that a number of one-off events may have impacted on the Q2 output.

These included the new April bank holiday, the royal wedding and the impact of the Japanese earthquake on UK manufacturing output. The unseasonably warm weather in April, while good for hotels and catering, hit the output of the electricity and gas sectors.

ONS estimates suggest that these one-off events knocked 0.4% off service sector growth and 0.1 % off growth in production sectors, in Q2.

However, Dr Birnie says that, despite the poor Q2 performance, the feared double-dip recession is by no means inevitable.

“Economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth and, as Q1 was positive, we would need to see a particularly horrific third quarter to get us into that territory.

“ONS figures confirm that UK industrial production rose by 0.9% in May – slightly lower than expected – but with manufacturing output up 1.8% in the same month.

“It's likely that manufacturing will remain the main driver of recovery and talk of double-dip recession at this time would be both alarmist and premature.

“I would be more concerned as to the impact of external factors, such as the Greek euro crisis which is still simmering and fears of contagion in Spain and Italy, as well as lacklustre US economic performance and the American budget impasse.