LONDON- Britain’s economy grew a little faster in the third quarter than first estimated and the country’s current account deficit shrank to its smallest since 2012, a small boost ahead of what looks set to be a sluggish end to the year ahead of Brexit.
The world’s fifth-biggest economy grew 0.4 percent in the third quarter of the year, better than a previous estimate of 0.3 percent and boosted by upward revisions to services and construction output, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.
While the data was better than any analyst polled by Reuters predicted, incoming Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey – appointed earlier on Friday – will probably be more concerned by other recent gauges of the economy that show it has slowed to a crawl in late 2019.
“The underlying picture is still that there is very little momentum in the economy,” said Andrew Wishart, UK economist at Capital Economics.
The ONS said a surge in goods exports helped Britain’s balance of payments deficit narrow to 15.860 billion pounds ($20.68 billion)in the third quarter from 24.152 billion pounds in the second quarter, roughly in line with expectations.
As a percentage of economic output, the deficit fell to 2.8 percent, its smallest since early 2012.
The BoE’s departing governor, Mark Carney, described Britain as dependent “on the kindness of strangers” before the 2016 Brexit referendum. On Monday the BoE said the current account deficit still posed economic risks.
British trade flows have been volatile in 2019 and the boost from trade is unlikely to be sustained, especially with global demand weakened by a US-China trade war. – Reuters