Rate hikes ahoy or time to batten down the hatches? What eight analysts think of today's UK GDP figures

 
Emma Haslett
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It's official: UK GDP grew 0.7 per cent during the second quarter, meaning the UK has now had 10 consecutive quarters of growth.

But is it all good news? And what does it mean for the future of interest rates, which Bank of England governor Mark Carney has strongly hinted will begin to rise "around the turn of the year".

Here's what analysts think.

1. "More pressure to hike rates" - Institute of Directors' James Sproule

The Bank of England must now look closely at its interest rate policy. This is the latest piece of evidence which suggests the time to start normalising interest rates is now. An economy growing at 0.7 per cent per quarter, unemployment at just 5.6 per cent and real wage growth of more than three per cent has no need for historically low interest rates of 0.5 per cent. The IoD continues to call on the Bank of England to start the gradual process of normalising rates as soon as possible. We would like to see the Monetary Policy Committee vote for a 25 basis point increase when they meet next week.

2. "This should underpin the recent strength of sterling" - The Share Centre's Graham Spooner

As predicted, the services and production sectors led the way providing the bulk of the growth in the last quarter at 0.7 per cent and one per cent respectively. In contrast, the agriculture sector saw output fall by 0.7 per cent and in the construction sector, growth was relatively flat.
The UK economy has now grown for 10 straight quarters, and bounced back from its weakness at the start of the year: this continued growth trend may start to focus investors’ attention towards the possibility of a rise in interest rates and it should also help to underpin the recent strength of sterling.

3. "A blessing" - Calum Bennie, savings expert at Scottish Friendly

With growth getting back up to speed, we should also be prepared for a moderate return of inflation. Providing this trend continues, the Bank of England will be well placed to start to raise interest rates from their historic low.
A rate rise won’t happen quickly, but for homeowners in particular, this is a blessing as it gives them time to prepare for the inevitable increase in the cost of borrowing. Planning and preparation for rising interest rates will mean that anyone who sees their mortgage repayments climb, can help offset the cost through the money they saved over these coming months.

4. "Consumer boost from noflation" - Martin Beck, senior economic adviser to the EY Item Club

The sectoral breakdown emphasised the "two-speed" nature of the expansion, with virtually all of the growth coming from the services sector. The success of the services sector is partly a reflection of the boost to consumer spending from "noflation".

Manufacturers, in contrast, are being buffeted by the impact of the stronger pound, which is constraining export demand. The wildcard has been the performance of the mining & quarrying sector, where output rose by nearly 8 per cent in the second quarter. However, given the collapse in the oil price, it is unlikely that this will be sustained.

5. "Sterling's been a key driver" - Victoria Clarke, Investec

Sterling strength has clearly been a key driver behind the re-emergence of the two-speed economy, making life more difficult for export focused UK manufacturers. Through the second quarter overall, trade weighted sterling gained more than 4 per cent and so far has firmed further over July too, with the recent edging back not enough to undo the early month gains. Furthermore, across the suite of manufacturing sector surveys we continue to see evidence of the impact sterling strength is having on UK manufacturers. Indeed, the CBI’s latest quarterly industrial trends survey pointed to further slippage in export orders over the next 3 months with the lowest balance since October 2012, at -7.

6. "Rate rise in 2016" - Scott Corfe, head of macroeconomics at CEBR

The current trajectory for growth leaves the UK on course to tighten monetary policy in early 2016 - with the first Bank of England rate rise in early 2016. Critically, with some slower growth expected beyond this year, the pace of tightening will be very gradual. Even by 2020, we expect the Bank Rate to stand at just 2% - less than half what was typically seen between 2000 and 2007.

7. Speed is not of the essence - Craig Erlam, senior market analyst, Oanda

This comes after Carney and other members of the monetary policy committee warned that the first rate hike could come sooner than previously anticipated, with it even being suggested that it could be considered later this year. Like in the US, the BoE is clearly more concerned with the pace of rate hikes rather than the timing of the first as this would be a greater threat to the recovery. Still, the first quarter of next year looks the most likely at this stage barring an unexpected rise in spending and inflation in the coming months.

8. Consumer spending is the worry - Connor Campbell, financial analyst, Spreadex

That GDP figure now sees the UK's economic output per person back near its pre-crisis peak. However, there were a few issues concealed within the attention-grabbing headline figure. Progress continues to be almost solely based on consumer spending fuelling aggressive growth in the services sector; construction growth, on the other hand, was flat, agriculture shrunk by 0.7 per cent and, most worryingly, manufacturing contracted by 0.3 per cent.

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