Britain’s businesses grew at their slowest pace in 17 months in July and inflation pressures eased; according to an industry survey that might reduce pressure on the Bank of England to deliver a bigger-than-usual interest rate hike next month.
The slowdown was mostly due to weaker demand; but continued shortages of supplies and staff also put a break on growth. The PMI also showed input cost inflation at a 10-month low or an 18 month low for manufacturers welcome news for the BoE. The central bank says it is ready to raise interest rates; by a bigger-than-usual half-percentage point if it sees signs of persistent inflation pressures.
The fall was due to weaker commodity prices and a stabilisation in fuel costs although many firms reported intense salary pressures; and some said the pound’s fall against the U.S. dollar was also hurting them. Prices charged by firms rose at the slowest pace since January as demand from clients softened.
Companies remained cautious about the outlook although their mood improved from June’s 25-month low, driven by service firms. Employment rose at the slowest pace in 16 months. Earlier on Friday, a separate survey showed British consumer confidence remained at an all-time low.