UK GDP growth slows in October with resurgence in Covid-19 cases

LONDON (REUTERS) – Britain’s economic recovery almost ground to a halt in October against a backdrop of rising coronavirus cases that dealt a blow to the hospitality sector, official figures showed on Thursday (Dec 10).

Gross domestic product rose 0.4 per cent on the month, the Office for National Statistics said, in line with forecasts in a Reuters poll for growth to slow from 1.1 per cent in September.

Britain has Europe’s highest death toll from Covid-19, with more than 62,000 fatalities, and also suffered the biggest economic hit of any major economy after GDP shrank by an unprecedented 19.8 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

Although the economy initially picked up rapidly after the initial shock of the lockdown, it lost momentum as Covid-19 cases started to rise again in September.

“The reintroduction of some (Covid-19) restrictions saw services growth hit, with large falls in hospitality, meaning the economy overall grew only modestly,” ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said.

British economic output in October was 8.2 per cent below year-ago levels, little changed from an 8.4 per cent shortfall in September, and growth over the three months to October slowed to 10.2 per cent from 15.5 per cent in the three months to September.

Government forecasters do not expect the economy to regain its pre-Covid size until the end of 2022 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicted that Britain’s recovery would be weaker than anywhere bar Argentina.

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