CBI warns of ‘no deal’ woe as private sector growth holds steady

The CBI said falling services volumes were partially offset by robust progress in wholesaling and motor trades. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images
The CBI said falling services volumes were partially offset by robust progress in wholesaling and motor trades. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images
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UK private sector activity was stable in the quarter to December, and is expected to remain steady in the coming three months, a study published today has revealed.

The latest growth indicator from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – based on 609 respondents – showed the balance of firms reporting a rise in output at +3 per cent, compared to +2 per cent in the three months to November.

Falling services volumes were partially offset by strong manufacturing growth and steady expansion in distribution, reinforced by robust progress in wholesaling and motor trades. Retail volumes fell at the fastest pace since November 2014.

The CBI said private sector activity is expected to remain steady over the three months to March (-1 per cent), with declining services volumes set to continue alongside slower distribution and manufacturing growth.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “Private sector growth appears to have tailed off towards the end of 2018 and is now pointing to a slowdown in the fourth quarter, following a stronger weather-buoyed showing earlier in the year. With less than 100 days left before the UK leaves the EU, it’s time for ‘no deal’ to be taken off the table once and for all. Firms are desperate for that reassurance to continue investing and supporting job creation across all sectors of the economy.”