Things quieten down this week after a hectic few weeks of data releases. We’ll see some final updates on business investment and GDP and a number of consumer-related stats on confidence and services. Elsewhere we’ll be keeping an eye on oil prices after OPEC’s decision to increase production last week and the outcome of a key vote in parliament this week – not Brexit related, but causing as much tension in the ranks of both main parties – Heathrow expansion.
Jan – Mar 2018
We get ‘final’ estimates on business investment and GDP covering the first three months of the year. Third estimates of GDP rarely throw up surprises and this one won’t change the picture of a sluggish start to the year.
Business investment was a bit of a disappointment, according to the first cut of q1 data in May, contracting by 0.2%. A big slump in construction investment – down 8% in the quarter – was a significant contributor to the fall; no doubt a consequence of a combination of Carillion and the weather. In contrast manufacturers upped their investment at the start of the year. Let’s hope this holds, as given some of the Brexit related warnings from manufacturers over the past few days, capex plans look to be in for a bit of a bumpy ride this year.
As from next month ONS will be producing rolling monthly GDP data rather than a series of estimates (the first of which is always reported as being 'subject to revision'). The first of these will land on 10th July providing stats on GDP growth in the three months to May.
At a number of recent meetings with manufacturers, the recovery in the price of Brent crude has been cited as a positive factor driving new orders. For others, the focus has been on the risks to rising inflation. The OPEC decision to hike production by 1 million barrels per day is expected to keep prices in the $65 - $70 per barrel range, therefore striking a balance between on-going oil and gas investment and assuaging fears about inflation risks.
The vote on the National Policy Statement is another (potential step) on the road to Heathrow expansion. Would be good to start ticking a few things off our domestic lobbying to do list. Keep an eye out for us on twitter to see what the outcome of the vote is and if you need a quick reminder about why this is important, check out our blog.