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|RETAIL SALES Growth in retail sales appears to have slowed last month compared with a year earlier, in another sign that the biggest driver of the UK economy is losing steam.The British Retail Consortium and KPMG said the comparable retail sales fell by 1% last month.Helen Dickinson,
chief executive of the BRC,
said that an early Easter last year caused a slight distortion in the figures and always made spring a tricky period.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE Consumers have started 2017 with renewed confidence in their personal financial situation but remain concerned about the wider economy, despite record high employment and the UK economy growing faster than any other G7 nation in 2016. The GfK consumer confidence index rose two points in January to reach a balance of -5 having plunged to -12 in July after the Brexit vote.The index was pushed up by confidence in personal finances, with expectations for the year ahead in this rising three points from a balance of zero in December.
HOUSE BUILDING The building industry received its fastest rise in new orders in almost a year in December, even as the fall in sterling drove up the cost of imported materials to the highest level in five and a half years. The purchasing managers index for the construction sector rose to 54.2 last month, up from 52.8 in November, marking the fastest pace of expectation since March. The upbeat outlook from 200 companies in the sector comes after similarly positive stance from the manufacturing industry, where activity rose at the fastest pace in two and a half years according to its PMI survey.