Activity turns

Only two areas grow as economy slows down

chart and business finance
Business activity has slowed

Only two of the UK’s economic regions grew last month in the latest evidence of a slowdown in activity.

London and the Yorkshire & Humberside area were the only highlights in September’s regional purchasing managers index from NatWest (RBS).

The index measures output of goods and services across the private sector. A reading above 50 signals growth, and below signals contraction. Scotland slipped into negative territory with a reading of 48.

Northern Ireland – regularly touted by the SNP as a beneficiary of the Brexit arrangement – was the worst performing economy with a reading of 42.3.

Demand for goods and services fell in most areas, under pressure from high inflation and increased uncertainty towards the outlook.

This in turn took a toll on hiring activity, with employment growth slowing in the majority of cases. 

Business confidence towards future output fell across three-quarters of the surveyed regions in September. Yorkshire & Humber recorded the strongest optimism, despite seeing the greatest reduction in expectations from the previous month.

Business sentiment was generally positive, with the exception of Northern Ireland and the North East.

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