Published: 11/25/2009 9:42:18 AM By:
The U.K. economy shrank less than previously estimated in the third quarter as consumer spending stopped falling and the service industries slump eased, bringing the longest recession on record closer to an end.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week called for stimulus to stay in place to avoid “choking off recovery” as an election looms within six months. The Bank of England has expanded its bond-purchase plan three times since March to ensure Britain’s escape from recession and Governor Mervyn King said yesterday the pickup isn’t “particularly strong.”
The U.K.’s recovery has lagged behind that of the U.S. and the euro area, which have both returned to growth. Data yesterday showed Germany’s economic growth accelerated in the third quarter, while the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate, less than the government reported last month.
Consumer spending was unchanged in the third quarter, the first time it hasn’t dropped in 1 1/2 years. Government spending rose 0.2 percent, while fixed investment fell 0.3 percent, the statistics office said.
Inventories fell by 4.1 billion pounds ($6.8 billion), the fourth consecutive decline. The slump in inventories is now the biggest on record, the statistics office said.
Officials revised up the GDP data because the decline in services output was smaller than previously estimated, at 0.1 percent instead of 0.2 percent. Manufacturing dropped 0.1 percent, up from the prior measurement of 0.2 percent.
Unemployment rose at the slowest pace in 18 months in October, retail sales climbed for a second month and the inflation rate increased more than expected, to 1.5 percent. The bank aims to keep inflation at 2 percent.