UK economic growth 'to soften further'

UK shoppers Image copyright PA

Growth in the UK economy is set to soften further, according to a survey by the business body, the British Chambers of Commerce.

The BCC said that its research suggested that key indicators, such as sales and orders, as well as confidence and investment, were "at a low ebb".

It said the economy faced a number of "global and domestic uncertainties".

Last week, an unexpectedly sharp decline in industrial production raised fears about the UK's economy.

Official figures showed that industrial output fell 0.5% in February from a year earlier, the biggest decline since August 2013, adding to concerns that the UK economy slowed in the first three months of the year.

"While the picture is static overall, there are clear indications that economic growth is continuing to soften," said Dr Adam Marshall, the BCC's acting general secretary.

"From sales and orders to confidence and investment intentions, many of the business indicators we track are at a low ebb."

The survey of more than 8,500 firms showed historically low confidence in turnover and profitability. It also suggested that domestic sales and orders in services firms fell in the first quarter of the year, to their lowest level in three years, while manufacturers also reported a fall in domestic sales.

The BCC's previous director general John Longworth resigned earlier this year after saying that he believed the UK had a "brighter" economic future outside the EU.

The body has said it will not campaign for either side in the 23 June referendum as its membership is split.

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