UK earnings growth narrowly beats forecasts and the jobless rate holds at a 42-year low but, as David Pollard reports, the gap between wages and prices is growing with worrying consequences as Brexit looms.
Farmer Guy French could sell 100,000 pumpkins in the next weeks. As Britain gears up for what - until a few decades ago - was a relatively un-British tradition. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARMER - FOX'S FARM PRODUCE, GUY FRENCH, SAYING: "We love Halloween ... It is very Americanised, a growing market and we just love pumpkins." More trick, less treat is another tradition the UK shares with the US - and other developed economies, like Japan: low-wage growth. New UK figures show a rise of 2.2 per cent in weekly earnings. With inflation now running at three per cent, household incomes struggling to keep up. SOUNDBITE (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "It is worrying of course for consumers if wage growth doesn't really pick up strongly that the squeeze and therefore the potential hit to spending and thus the economy is a potentially negative sign really there." A bigger mystery is why wages are so reluctant to grow - when UK employment is at a 42-year-low. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "Economists have been scratching their heads .... Lack of trade unions perhaps, the loss of well-paid manufacturing jobs and instead we got burger flipping jobs. These sorts of factors are all related to this." Two Bank of England policymakers noted low wage growth in comments this week. Adding to the argument the Bank may hold off rate hikes next year - the last full year before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU. Next month a hike could still be on the cards. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "We've seen some more hawkish comments emerge since September .... and it does seem that they are prepared to hike interest rates probably certainly in our view to put some support under sterling." A 12 per cent plunge in the pound since the Brexit referendum sapping business confidence and squeezing consumers ... In what some investors already think of as the UK's own economic fright night.