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With Parliament officially in November recess, there has been relatively little news from Westminster. However a wide range of economic indicators released in both the UK and Europe this week paint a positive picture for both national and European growth and economic recovery.
Of particular relevance to our industry:
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) grew by 2.2% in the year to October 2013, down from 2.7% in September (article two).
Retail sales figures for October 2013 show the quantity of goods bought increased by 1.8% compared with October 2012 (article three).
UK employment statistics released this week show that for July-September 2013, 71.8% of people aged from 16 to 64 were in work, up 0.3 percentage points on the previous quarter and up 0.6 on the previous year (article four).
In European news, the European Parliament’s Budgets Committee has approved the EU’s long-term budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework – MFF) for 2014-2020 and struck the deal on the budget for 2014, the first year under the new MFF (article five).
The eurozone economy grew by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2013, confirming that the bloc is out of recession after 18 months (article 6).
The “Access to Finance” survey released this week by the European Commission and European Central Bank highlights the concerns of struggling SMEs in Europe (article seven).
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2. Inflation falls for October 2013
UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation fell sharply in October, according to data released this week by the Office for National Statistics. The headline rate of CPI inflation stood at 2.2% in October, down from 2.7% in September and the lowest rate of inflation the UK has seen since September 2012.
The UK economy expanded by 0.8% in 2013 Q3 and business surveys point to continued robust growth in Q4. The gathering pace of expansion during 2013 was supported by an increase in domestic demand. That reflects both an improvement in credit conditions and a reduction in uncertainty.
The key contributors to the reduction were education costs and transportation, each shaving around 0.2 percentage points from the headline rate. Meanwhile, a reduction in the costs of fuels – petrol prices fell by 4.9p per litre between September and October – eased pressure on motorists.
Source: Cebr and the Bank of England
See Bank of England report here: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/inflationreport/2013/ir13nov.pdf
3. Retail sales figures continue upward trend
Year-on-year estimates of the quantity bought in the retail industry continue to show growth – In October 2013, the quantity bought increased by 1.8% compared with October 2012. On the month the quantity bought decreased by 0.7%. Despite this fall, the underlying pattern in the data as suggested by the three month on three month movement is flat, following a sustained seven month period of growth.
Of the four main retail sectors non-food stores and non-store retailing provided the upwards contributions to the year-on-year growth increasing by 2.7% and 16.3% respectively. Food stores and petrol stations saw falls in the quantity bought of 0.3% and 2.4% respectively.
The annual increase in the prices of goods sold in the retail industry slowed from an increase of 0.9% in September to 0.7% in October. Consistent with the (CPI), the automotive fuel sector provided the largest contribution to this change with the prices of goods sold in this sector falling by 3.5%, the largest fall in the price of goods sold in this sector since September 2009. Excluding automotive fuel the prices of goods sold increased by 1.3% in October 2013.
Source: Office for National Statistics
4. Unemployment figures fall for Q3 of 2013
Key statistics from the Office for National Statistics November Labour Market Report include:
Source: Office for National Statistics
5. EU reaches agreement on 2014-2020 Budget
After intense negotiations this week, Parliament and Council struck a deal on the EU budget for 2014, which also provides for remedying payments shortfalls in in the current fiscal year. MEPs ensured that victims of catastrophic flooding and drought in 2013 will be compensated, and that its priorities for 2014 in areas such as employment, research and innovation, border management and humanitarian aid are also taken on board.
In payments, €500 million were added to the 2014 budget, bringing the total compared to the initial Council position to €135.5 billion. Commitments were set at €142.6 billion, which is in line with the Commission’s budget proposal. This outcome is important with a view to the approval of the EU’s long-term budget 2014-2020, which is still pending.
Parliament’s Budgets Committee will vote amending budget 9, to cover part of the flood compensations and make good the shortfall in research programmes, on 14 November.
The Parliament’s Budget Committee could approve both the 2014 EU budget and the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) at the same meeting, which will take place shortly. Parliament as a whole could then vote on the MFF on Tuesday 19 November and the 2014 budget on Wednesday 20 November.
Source: European Parliament
6. Eurozone moves out of recession
The eurozone economy grew by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2013, according to figures released Thursday by the EU’s statistical agency Eurostat. The figure is down from 0.3% in the previous quarter but confirms that the bloc is out of recession after 18 months.
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP fell by 0.4% in the euro area and rose by 0.1% in the EU28 (includes European countries outside of the Eurozone) in the third quarter of 2013, after -0.6% and -0.2% respectively in the previous quarter.
7. Survey shows SMEs struggling in the EU
Access to finance is still among the top concerns of the EU’s small and medium sized enterprises and younger and smaller firms are the most badly affected, according to the “Access to Finance” survey released today by the European Commission and European Central Bank. About one third of the SMEs surveyed did not manage to get the full financing they had planned for during 2013 and 15% of survey respondents saw access to finance as a significant problem for their companies. Companies believed that bank financing conditions worsened during 2013, with respect to interest rates, collateral and required guarantees.
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship commented:
“Since the start of the crisis, evidence has consistently shown that SMEs face large and disproportionate obstacles to accessing the finance they need to survive and thrive. This is why we are introducing the COSME programme, to focus on facilitating access to finance for SMEs. COSME will provide a guarantee facility for SME loans up to and even over € 150 000 and we expect that from now until 2020 around 344 000 EU firms will receive COSME backed loans.”
8. Westminster Diary
The following is of note when Parliament returns to Westminster next week;
Monday 18 November
Oral Questions: Work and Pensions
Tuesday 19 November
Oral Questions: Deputy Prime Minister
House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee Inquiry: The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil
Wednesday 20 November
Oral Questions: Prime Minister
Thursday 21 November
Oral Questions: Environment
Friday 22 November
House of Commons; Private Members Bills
House of Lords not sitting.