UK economic growth of 0.5% in the final quarter of 2015 was as forecast, slightly up on the revised third quarter growth figure of 0.4%. The UK’s annual growth rate for 2015 was 2.2%, down from 2.9% in 2014. Services expanded by 0.7% mainly due to the financial services sector. Industrial production declined as mining and quarrying fell by 1.4% after growth of 2.6% in the third quarter. Construction continued to fall in the fourth quarter (by 0.1%) after declining by 1.9% in the previous quarter. The IMF projects a growth rate of 2.2% in the UK economy in 2016.
The Euro Area’s GDP grew 0.3% in the fourth quarter, in line with market expectations, slowing from 0.4% in the third quarter of 2015. Growth for the whole of 2015 was 1.5%, while the IMF forecast growth of 1.7% in 2016.
Germany grew as forecast by 0.3% in the last quarter of 2015. Increased domestic demand, mainly from greater government and household final consumption, was the most significant cause. Over 2015 as a whole, the German economy grew by 1.7%. Looking to the future, the IMF currently predicts the German economy to grow by 1.7% in both 2016 and 2017. The French economy grew 0.2% in the fourth quarter relative to forecast growth of 0.3%. The economy was mainly boosted by household spending while government expenditure also grew slightly. For the year as a whole, the French economy grew by 1.5% over the year, higher than both the 1.2% forecasted and the 2014 annual growth rate of 1.1%. The Italian economy has experienced a slowdown in the pace of growth over 2015; the growth rate fell each consecutive quarter with the fourth quarter rate being 0.1%–lower than the market expectations of 0.3%. This is Italy’s first year of positive growth following a three-year recession–with growth over 2015 coming to 0.6%, lower than the forecast level of 0.9%. The IMF projects growth of 1.3% in 2016.
The US saw weak growth in the first quarter of 2015 at an annualised rate of 0.6%; after a jump to 3.9% in the second quarter, the growth rate declined to 2% in the third quarter and further to 0.7% in the final quarter of 2015, less than the forecast rate of 1%. Non-residential investment shrank by 1.8%, the first quarter of negative growth for three years. The level of exports declined by 2.5% due to a strong dollar and a weak global economy. The growth rate forecast by the IMF for 2016 is 2.6%.
The Chinese economy grew 6.9% over the course of 2015, lower than the 2014 rate of 7.3% and the weakest annual growth since 1990. The tertiary industry, which accounts for 50.5% of GDP, expanded by 8.3% over 2015. The net value of exports decreased by 7%, with exports declining by 1.8% and imports shrinking by 13.2%–evidence of China continuing its transition from an export-led economy to a more developed, services driven economy. While actions are being taken to stimulate the Chinese economy, the government has targeted an annual growth rate of 6.5% for the 2016 year–lower than the 2015 growth but higher than the IMF’s projected figure of 6.3%.
This report contains statistics data for markets around the world.