Business group expects economic growth to gather momentum over next quarter

Latest CBI Growth Indicator suggested UK economic growth "held steady" in the three months to March

Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director
Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director

Economic growth in the UK held steady in the three months to March and is expected to gather momentum over the next quarter, according to the results of the CBI’s latest Growth Indicator.

The national business group surveyed 754 businesses across a range of sectors, and the outcome suggests private sector growth was almost unchanged from the three months to February — increasing just one percentage point.

Survey results indicated stronger month-on-month growth in the retail, wholesale and motor trades, as well as consumer services.

This positive movement was said to have compensated for a weaker manufacturing performance where 11 of the 18 sub-sectors reported slowing growth since February.

Business and professional services firms were said to have been feeling the effect of stronger competition.

Office for National Statistics data published earlier this month showed productivity, measured as output per hour, fell by 0.2% in the last three months of 2014.

It was the weakest productivity growth since the second world war, and represented a widening gap between the UK’s economic rivals.

Meanwhile expectations for business growth in the next three months increased to a balance of +25%, up from the +18% recorded in March.

The CBI said this still represented a significant scaling back of expectations compared with this time last year.

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director general, said: “The outlook for 2015 looks encouraging. Our surveys show it’s been a solid start to the year with the prospect of stronger growth to come. The benefits of lower oil prices should be increasingly felt; with cheaper petrol boosting households’ incomes and spending power, and cutting costs for many businesses.

“The main risk to the UK economy comes from the Eurozone, with continuing wrangling over Greece’s bailout package stoking uncertainty. Plus, many businesses will also have to contend with a stronger pound weighing down on already weak export growth. ”

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