June 08th, 2014

UK economic update

The UK economic recovery continues to gather pace, triggering a slew of upgrades to growth forecasts for this year. The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for the UK’s economic expansion during 2014 from 2.5% to 2.9% while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development upgraded its 2014 forecast to 3.2%. In comparison, the Bank of England maintained its 2014 forecast at 3.4% although it increased its projection for next year from 2.7% to 2.9%.

Many commentators remain concerned an increase in interest rates could derail the recovery. The UK base rate has remained at an all-time low of 0.5% since March 2009 and, although the economy has “edged closer” to the point at which interest rates would need to rise, the Bank of England expects rates to remain low “for some time”.

The UK’s rate of unemployment declined to 6.8% during the three months to March, compared with a rate of 7.8% a year earlier. In sharp contrast to its earlier prediction the rate of unemployment was likely to remain above 7% for some time, the Bank of England now expects the unemployment rate to fall to 5.9% by mid-2016.

The rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose from 1.6% during March to 1.8% during April, reversing nine months of decline. The UK’s trade deficit narrowed during March, helped by a 4.9% increase in exports while export orders and sales have risen to all-time highs, according a report from the British Chambers of Commerce.

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