Data published in December show mixed trends. While London has corrected the downturn seen in its business activity last month, its subsequent performance has been tepid with the capital failing to lead the rankings on any measure in December.
Surprisingly, it has been regions to the north that have reflected some positive trends towards the end of last year. But with the UK economic recovery still failing to gain any real momentum, we expect regional evidence, particularly for the north and midlands, to be weaker in early 2013.
- The Lloyds TSB/Markit PMI index of private sector activity showed mixed trends across the regions in November. Activity slowed in East of England, South East, Scotland and West Midlands while, in contrast, Greater London, North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and Northern Ireland saw an improvement in the index. Surprisingly, Wales and North West recorded the strongest reading on this measure in November while Northern Ireland stayed the weakest region.
- ONS official labour market statistics show a fall in employment in North West, East of England and Scotland in the three months to October. The strongest job creation in this period was seen in Yorkshire & the Humber, West Midlands and North East. All other regions recorded negligible changes. With the pace of employment growth decelerating now that one month (October) of the weak q4 is included in the readings, we expect the view to turn gloomier as recent data become available.
- Nationwide’s house price index painted a gloomy picture for 2012q3 with 10 out of 13 regions recording falling house prices in the quarter. North East, Outer South East (Nationwide definition) and Yorkshire & the Humber were the only regions to see small rises in house prices.
- ONS’s annual Regional Accounts show that in nominal terms, South East recorded the strongest growth in the regions in 2011, followed by East of England and Northern Ireland. North East saw the weakest growth in the UK, although North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and Scotland all underperformed the national average.
- ONS’s Regional Trade statistics show that the North West led the way in 2012q3 in export value growth as mineral fuel and chemical exports picked up strongly. Yorkshire & the Humber also saw some positive growth in export values while all other regions saw either declines or very marginal expansion.
- Experian’s construction index (excluding London) shows that in November, too, all regions remain entrenched in negative territory as North East and Northern Ireland stood out as the clear laggards on this measure.