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B2B Economic Outlook - UK - March 2019

What you need to know

In 2018, the UK’s GDP grew by its slowest annual rate since 2012 and represented the first time that services, construction and production growth all declined over a single year since the same year. At its February 2019 meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.75% and to maintain the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases.

In January 2019, reflecting the latest available data, Consumer Price Index (CPI) hit its lowest rate in two years as there was a decline in gas, electricity and petrol prices. In February 2019, the ONS reported that average weekly earnings had reached their highest level in over a decade.

“With time running out for the government and the EU to agree to a deal, the uncertain environment has led to many companies holding back on risky investments to ensure that their short-term objectives are able to be achieved alongside any adverse market impacts that follow Brexit.“
– Lewis Cone, Senior B2B Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

      • What you need to know
        • Economic overview
          • Business health
            • Special focus: B2B finance
              • What’s next?
              • Economic Overview

                • Annual GDP growth falls to six-year low in 2018
                  • Figure 1: Annual GDP growth rate, 2014-18
                • Bank rate remains at 0.75%
                  • Figure 2: Bank rate, 2008-18, by date of adjustment
                • CPI rate hits two-year low…
                    • Figure 3: Consumer Price Index, January 2018-January 2019, (12-month rate)
                  • …which has boosted wage growth
                    • Figure 4: Average weekly earnings, total pay, January-December 2018, Great Britain
                • Business Health

                  • Although 85% of small businesses’ finances are ‘healthy’ or ‘ok, many miss out on business opportunities due to a lack of funding
                    • Figure 5: Current finance situation of the business, June 2016 vs June 2017 vs June 2018
                  • Business turnover rebounds in 2018
                    • Figure 6: UK business turnover, 2018, at the start of the year, by business sector
                  • Insolvencies rise for third consecutive year
                    • Figure 7: Company insolvencies in England and Wales, Q3 2016-Q4 2018
                  • Business investment levels fall and profitability continues to stagnate
                    • Figure 8: UK PNFCs net rate of return, Q3 2016-Q3 2018
                    • Figure 9: UK total business investment, Q3 2016-Q3 2018, (chained volume measures and not seasonally-adjusted)
                • Special Focus: B2B Finance

                  • Net lending remained positive in 2018
                    • Figure 10: UK MFIs’ net loans to non-financial businesses, Q4 2016-Q4 2018, by size of business, (not seasonally adjusted)
                  • Credit availability and demand falls in 2018
                    • Figure 11: Availability of corporate credit to PNFCs in the past three months, Q3 2016-Q4 2018, by business size
                  • Write-offs on loans to non-financial companies fell to an eight-year low in 2017 but are expected to have risen in 2018
                    • Figure 12: Write offs of loans to PNFCs from banks and building societies, Q3 2016-Q3 2018, (not seasonally adjusted)
                • What’s Next?

                  • Businesses plan to reinvest profits to develop and to increase the cash held in reserve
                    • Figure 13: Business owners' plans for their business' finances over the next two years, June 2018
                  • Business confidence reaches a decade low at the start of 2019
                    • Figure 14: Business Confidence Index, Q1 2018-Q1 2019
                  • General consensus suggests slower economic growth
                    • Purchasing Managers’ Index Surveys
                      • Increasing threat of no-deal Brexit driving change in company strategy
                        • Businesses responding to potential loss of passporting rights
                        • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                            • Abbreviations

                            B2B Economic Outlook - UK - March 2019

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