U.K. Economic Growth Probably Slowed to 0.2% on Weaker Consumer Spending

Britain’s second-quarter economic growth probably slowed as weak consumer spending continued to restrain the recovery, economists said.

Gross domestic product rose 0.2 percent compared with a 0.5 percent increase in the first quarter, according to the median of 32 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The Office for National Statistics will publish the data at 9:30 a.m. on July 26 in London.

Output was hit in the second quarter by supply disruptions stemming from the earthquake in Japan, while plants shut down and workers booked vacations to take advantage of consecutive four-day weekends in April to mark Easter and the royal wedding. Bank of England policy makers left their benchmark interest rate at a record low this month and warned that the current economic weakness may persist “for longer than previously thought.”

“The economy is likely to have eked out marginal growth at best in the second quarter, and there is a very real danger that it could have contracted modestly,” said Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London, who forecasts 0.1 percent growth. “Activity clearly took a significant hit in April from the extra public holiday, but the softness of the economy runs deeper than this.”

Manufacturing growth slowed in June, while expansion among services companies remained “below trend,” Markit Economics Ltd. said in reports this month. Consumer confidence fell as Britons grew more pessimistic about the outlook for the economy, Nationwide Building Society said on July 21.

Demand is being hit by government spending cuts while high inflation is eroding household incomes at the fastest pace since the 1970s. The economy has effectively stagnated since September, with the first quarter’s growth leaving the level of GDP no higher than it was in the third quarter of last year.

Four of the economists surveyed forecast a contraction in the second quarter, with Hetal Mehta at Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Ltd. projecting a 0.3 percent drop in GDP. At the other end of the range is Azad Zangana at Schroders Plc, with a forecast for growth of 0.4 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Fergal O’Brien in London at fobrien@bloomberg.net; Mark Evans in London at mevans8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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