UK: Resilient business and consumer confidence in March

5 min

March business confidence indicators suggest Q1 GDP growth should reach about +0.4% q/q, unchanged from Q4 2017. Confidence in the manufacturing sector as indicated by the PMI was rather stable in March (55.1, after 55.0 in February) with output growth and new export orders picking up while new orders, employment and prices (input and output) slowed down. Construction activity was impacted by snow-related disruption, with a high nega¬tive impact on civil engineering and commercial activity. The Construction PMI fell sharply to 47.0 from 51.4 in February, pointing to declining activity in the coming months, for the first time in 6 months. However, prospects in the residential housing market remained positive. Consumer confidence has improved slightly in March (GfK index up to -7 points, the highest since June 2017) thanks to a better current financial situation of households and less negative expectations for the economic situation in the next 12 months. But perspectives for future major purchases remained depressed. We expect GDP growth to slow down to +1.5% in 2018 from +1.8% in 2017.