Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 11:11 UK

UK confirms economy at standstill

Shoppers in Bath
Shoppers are tightening their belts as the economy fails to grow

The UK economy saw no growth in the second quarter of 2008, while the gap in the current account widened to its highest level in almost a year.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed economic output remained the same as in the first quarter, confirming previous estimates.

Growth was 0% in the second quarter - which was even lower than the 0.3% figure for the first quarter of 2008.

Some analysts think the Bank of England may cut interest rates as a result.

Output was revised up to 1.5% from a previous estimate of 1.4% year-on-year.

The new data takes into account improved methodology and was revised back to 1961. This adds 19.5bn to the 2007 gross domestic product (GDP) figures.

Gloomy forecast

The quarterly figures were the worst for sixteen years, and several analysts maintained a downbeat forecast for the UK economy.

"Overall, not much cheer here. We continue to think that the UK economy is poised for a recession and a prolonged period of weak activity as the excesses of the last decade unwind dramatically," said Paul Dales, an analyst at Capital Economics.

Separately, balance of payments information showed there was a deficit of some 11bn in the current account in the second quarter.

The current account deficit - which is the difference between imports and exports - widened by more than had been expected to 10.98bn, compared with 5.49bn in the first quarter.

This is the biggest the deficit has been since the third quarter of 2007 and it equates to 3% of GDP.

The increase has been due to increased interest payments from UK securities dealers and lower losses recorded by foreign banks operating in Britain.

Lena Komileva, an analyst at Tullett Prebon, said the figures showed the UK's weak spot.

"The negative surprise on the current account highlights the vulnerability of the UK economy to external flows. At a time of a global drain of financial liquidity, this is worrying."

UK economy comes to a standstill
22 Aug 08 |  Business

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