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By any yardstick, U.K. productivity growth has been terrible in recent years. Output per hour exceeded its pre-recession peak only in the second quarter of 2015, and it has grown at an average annual rate of just 0.6% this decade. U.S. productivity growth has been equally dismal since 2010. But the U.K.'s performance is more worrying, because the productivity slump during the recession suggested scope for a period of catch-up. In the U.S., by contrast, productivity surged during the recession as firms cut headcount sharply.
April's labour market data show that slack in the job market is no longer declining, while wage growth still isn't recovering. As a result, we no longer think that the MPC will raise Bank Rate in August and now expect the Committee to stand pat until the first half of 2019.
A cursory glance at July's labour market report gives no cause for alarm. The headline, three-month average, unemployment rate returned to 3.8% in July, after edging up to 3.9% in June.
The resolution of tensions in Italy and aboveconsensus U.K. PMIs for May last week persuaded investors that the MPC likely will press on and raise interest rates soon.
China's trade surplus has been trending down in the last two years.
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