Economy may avoid recession | Taylor Wimpey sales dip
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The Resolution Foundation believes the UK is likely to have avoided a 2022 recession thanks to the “surprise economic growth” of 0.1% in November.
The Office for National Statistics said the slight rise was supported by the technology sector and a strong showing by pubs and bars amid a boost from the winter World Cup in Qatar.
The figure represents a slowdown on the 0.5% growth recorded in October.
Services grew by 0.2%, manufacturing fell by 0.5%, while construction remained unchanged.
The ONS adds that GDP fell by 0.3% in the three months to November 2022.
Darren Morgan, the ONS’s director of economic statistics, said: “The economy grew a little in November with increases in telecommunications and computer programming helping to push the economy forward.
“Pubs and bars also did well as people went out to watch the World Cup games.
“This was partially offset by further falls in some manufacturing industries, including the often erratic pharmaceutical industry, as well as falls in transport and postal, partially due to the impact of strikes.
“Over the last three months, however, the economy still shrank – mainly due to the impact of the extra Bank Holiday for the Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in September.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, said: “We have a clear plan to halve inflation this year – an insidious hidden tax which has led to hikes in interest rates and mortgage costs, holding back growth here and around the world.
“To support families through this tough patch, we will provide an average of £3,500 support for every household over this year and next – but the most important help we can give is to stick to the plan to halve inflation this year so we get the economy growing again.”
4pm: FTSE heading for all-time high
London’s FTSE 100 was heading closer to its all-time high after a second straight week of gains and would only have to rise by about 1% to beat its intraday all-time high of 7,903 achieved on 22 May 2018. It closed 50.03 points higher at 7,844.07.
Aero engine maker Rolls-Royce, up 4.58% led the gainers.
The more domestically-focused FTSE 250 index gained 0.56%.
US consumer prices fell for the first time in two-and-a-half years in December, boosting hopes that the Federal Reserve will ease off its aggressive interest rate rises.
Taylor Wimpey became the latest house builder to report on a softening in the sector. It said that sales remain “significantly below levels seen prior to the rise in mortgage rates in Q3 2022”.
It added:” “Accordingly, we enter 2023 with a lower private order book than in recent years and we expect overall volumes to reduce in 2023. We continue to focus on sales and supporting customers through their purchasing decisions.”
The group has instigated a cost-cutting programme that will produce annualised savings of around £20 million.
Group completions for last year were broadly in line with the prior year and it expects to report 2022 full year operating profit in line with expectations.
Jennie Daly, CEO, commented: Despite the economic and political backdrop through the second half, I am pleased that we expect to report full year operating profit in line with expectations.
“We remain confident that the medium to long term fundamentals of our business remain highly attractive.”
ITVx enjoys strong launch
ITVX, the commercial channel’s free, ad-funded streaming service, has enjoyed a strong launch month delivering a 55% increase in ITV’s streaming hours in the first month after its launch (8 December 2022 – 7 January 2023) compared to the same period last year.
Online users increased by 65% with the latter stages of the World Cup proving a big draw while ITVX’s new exclusive content also performed strongly, attracting new and light viewers to ITV.
Carolyn McCall, ITV CEO, said: “It is great to see so many new viewers coming into ITVX. The football World Cup has been an important part of that. Excluding the football, our underlying streaming viewing during the month was up 29% year on year and we continue to see strong year on year growth in January.
“ITVX has also landed really well with advertisers who see the increased value of the scale and reach of the audience they can now target in a high quality, brand safe and measurable streaming environment.”
US markets closed higher as inflation figures gave investors encouragement that pricing pressures were falling and reducing the pressure on the Federal Reserve to continue hiking rates aggressively.
At the close the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.64%, the S&P 500 was up 0.34%, and the Nasdaq Composite rose for the fifth day in a row, 0.64%.
Oil prices are on track for a respectable increase this week thanks to inflation cooling in the US and expectations of a rebound in China demand.
In China, the Shanghai Composite was 0.7% higher in afternoon dealings, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.6%.