The UK’s recovery already looks well past its peak, putting the economy on a shaky footing as it enters a winter of stricter restrictions to control the coronavirus.
The worrying outlook prompted JPMorgan Chase to almost halve its forecast for fourth-quarter growth, with the bank expecting regional lockdowns to have a wider impact on sentiment across the country.
That came the day IHS Markit said growth saw a sharp slowdown in October, with a gauge for the nation’s dominant services industry dropping to a four-month low, and data showed consumer confidence declined the most since April.
Markit’s survey respondents flagged the impact of local lockdowns on general consumer spending — a worrying sign for an area that’s was a standout performer as the economy emerged from lockdown. Retail sales had jumped a record 17.4% in the third quarter.
More bad news likely lies ahead, with large parts of the country now under curbs that ban household mixing in hospitality venues to slow a surge in virus cases. Those measures, coupled with the prospect of a messy divorce from the European Union at the end of the year, threaten to worsen a recovery from a recession that was the sharpest and deepest in three centuries.
JPMorgan now expects the economy to expand just 2.1% in the fourth quarter, down from 3.9% previously. The forecast, which is based on third-quarter growth of 15.9%, implies no monthly growth in October,
November or December.
“The latest mobility data for October show that retail and recreational activity is declining across the country rather than just in the areas with highest restrictions,” Allan Monks, an economist at the firm wrote in a note. “This suggests a broader economic hit via a general
The nation’s wellbeing is suffering alongside the economic malaise. Life satisfaction was the lowest since lockdown began this week, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In a sign of the worrying outlook, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a significant increase in UK government support, including more wage subsidies and grants for businesses.
Meanwhile, several Bank of England policy makers say they stand ready to increase stimulus to support the economy.
The next decision falls on November 5, when JPMorgan expects another 75 billion pound of bond purchases to be announced.
IHS Markit said its composite gauge of activity slid to 52.9 this month from 56.5. The index is still in expansionary territory but nevertheless the worst since June. Services fell to 52.3.
A measure of new work declined, while business confidence dropped to the lowest since May, Markit said. The slowdown would have been worse without a boost from exports as overseas firms raced to secure orders before December’s Brexit deadline.
“The slower growth of output, the renewed fall in demand and further deterioration in the labor market suggest the economy started the fourth quarter on a weakened footing,” said Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief business economist. “The rate of growth looks to have slowed sharply and the risk of a renewed downturn has risen.”