UK private sector growth remains steady, CBI reveals

Growth in the UK’s private sector remained steady in the three months to November, according to the latest Growth Indicator from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The survey of 715 respondents across the distribution, manufacturing and services sectors showed the pace of growth rose to a balance of +9%, compared with +8% in the three months to October.

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In addition, businesses across most sectors expect to see a slightly higher rate of growth over the next quarter (+11%).

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI, said: ‘The High Street has had a good month, even before we see the impact of Black Friday and Christmas shopping, whilst our manufacturers and services sector are seeing subdued growth.

‘Businesses will be pleased by the welcome measures in the Autumn Statement to unlock research and development spending, spur innovation and upgrade crucial infrastructure. By further prioritising spending, the government can seize the opportunities to deliver growth and prosperity across the UK’s regions and nations.’

Meanwhile, the IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index – an important indicator for the services sector – rose to 55.2, up from 54.5 the previous month. This represented the highest figure since January.

However, Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, sounded a note of caution: ‘Rising prices – often linked to the weaker pound – are a big concern and suggest that inflation is set to lift higher. The past two months have seen the steepest rise in businesses’ costs for over five-and-a-half years. These higher costs will inevitably feed through to consumers in the form of higher prices.

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