LONDON (Reuters) – British business suffered its deepest downturn since mid-2016 this month as the approach of a national election exacerbated uncertainty about Brexit, according to a survey which augured badly for the economy.
FILE PHOTO: People walk through the Canary Wharf financial district of London, Britain, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
The first “flash” early reading of the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMI) for Britain showed on Friday that the decline in both the services and manufacturing sectors has quickened in November.
The readings suggested the world’s fifth-biggest economy is contracting at a quarterly pace of 0.2%, IHS Markit said, although the PMIs have overstated economic weakness recently, in part because of higher government spending ahead of Brexit.
Sterling fell to a nine-day low against the euro after the data and bond prices extended a rally that took 10-year yields down 5 basis points on the day.
Some economists said the survey weakness could be due to broader concerns about political uncertainty, rather than an outright fall in economic output.
“Markit’s survey has been excessively influenced by general concerns among businesses about the Brexit and political outlook and so has become a poor indicator of day-to-day economic activity,” Pantheon Macroeconomics’s Samuel Tombs said.
“Those concerns likely have only intensified since the general election campaign kicked off.”
The two main political parties contesting the Dec. 12 vote offer contrasting plans for the world’s fifth-lar