Britain's economy ended 2015 on a soft note after the annual pace of growth slowed to its weakest in nearly three years as the global economic slowdown weighed on its previously rapid expansion. David Pollard reports.
UK annual growth slowed to its weakest level in nearly three years in the final quarter of 2015. GDP up just 1.9% versus a year ago... compared to 2.1% for the third quarter. Not exactly flying but at least Britain is still going in the right direction. Nandini Ramakrishnan from JP Morgan Asset Management. SOUNDBITE: Nandini Ramakrishnan, Global Market Strategist, JP Morgan Asset Management, saying (English): "Leading by the services sector, which is 80 per cent of the economy, a bit of softness in industry and manufacturing, but that's something we were to be expecting with the UK economy ... In general, the employment situation in the UK as well as great unemployment at a multi-year low." Set against global market turmoil, slowing demand from China and the oil price in freefall ..... UK finance minister George Osborne says the data ratchets up the need for a tighter grip on spending. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, GEORGE OSBORNE, SAYING: "Despite turbulence in the world economy, Britain is pushing ahead. But with what's going on around the world, there may be bumpy times ahead, which is why we've got to stick with the economic plan that's reducing our debts and attracting jobs and investment to our country." But with construction shrinking and manufacturing stagnating, government critics say they've yet to see evidence of a vital rebalancing. The opposition Labour Party warning it's still waiting for Osborne's so-called 'March of the Makers". As for the Bank of England: don't hold your breath for a rate hike any time soon. SOUNDBITE: Nandini Ramakrishnan, Global Market Strategist, JP Morgan Asset Management, saying (English): "Those inflationary pressures, which is the main thing they're watching, just haven't come through. The January UK inflation number did tick upwards, but that's not enough coupled with a softer wage growth to make a convincing case for the Bank of England to raise." Most economists are pushing their forecast for a hike out to the final months of the year - even the start of next year.