The first major UK data release of 2023 surprises

The services sector saves the UK falling into recession for now..


November's UK GDP number beat forecast (+0.1% v -0.3%) in what was a surprise to markets this morning. It puts the economy 0.3% below its pre-pandemic level, a gauge that is not going away anytime soon and one that will get wider in the months ahead. December's GDP number would have to be a disaster for the UK to have fallen into a recession in 2022 (unlikely). 

The better than expected figure shows the economy is resilient in the face of high inflation and a cost of living crisis. It means a potentially less 'deep' recession can be expected in 2023 and maybe even a shorter one. Retailers have reported a stronger than expected earnings report and this has been reflected in the services sector number jumping 0.4% above consensus. 

Sterling saw a 0.3% gain across the board after the release, not as much as many would have hoped for due to the surprise of the number, but that's just how it is for the Pound at the moment. Yesterday's US inflation figure created volatility as expected. £-$ rates jumped 1% on release, fell the same amount shortly after before gaining it back again before the day was done. 

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