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MNI INTERVIEW: Bright Spots In UK Growth Outlook-ONS's Fitzner

(MNI) London

The UK economy continued to flatline late in 2023, but there are bright spots on the horizon for the coming year, Office for National Statistics chief economist Grant Fitzner told MNI Friday.

"The conditions to help demand recover will likely be stronger in 2024 that they were last year," Fitzner said. "Although the ONS isn't in the business of speculating or forecasting, I wouldn't be surprised if the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England were a little more upbeat in their next forecast rounds."

Falling inflation, continuing real wage growth and, if financial markets are correct, lower interest rates should all help consumer spending recover, he added.

The UK is "certainly not going to see a deep, severe recession, but then again there will be no strong growth. However, the outlook is undoubtedly that the underlying conditions for growth are looking a bit more positive."


Still, the UK is set to enter technical recession if the economy contracts in December and Q3 data showing a decline of 0.1% in GDP is unrevised, he noted.

"Zero growth in December will see a flat quarter, above 0.3% will see a slightly positive quarter, but below zero will see a contraction -- and that would include a negative zero (a two-decimal-point negative rounded up to zero)," he said.

Geopolitics still poses upside risks to commodity prices and a downside risk to output, Fitzner said, though he added that these may not materialise.

The UK economy recovered some poise in November, reversing the weakness seen in October while still confirming Bank of England forecasts for stagnation. Output rose 0.3% m/m, driven by a 0.4% rise in the service sector and offsetting the previous month's 0.3% decline, ONS data released on Friday showed,

MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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