United Kingdom jobless rate rises unexpectedly

Unemployment rises at sharpest rate for nearly five years

Earlier this month, Carney did not rule out another quarter point rate hike to 0.75 percent in May in light of the above-target inflation.

Currently, wages are growing about 2.5 percent on average against price increases of about 3 percent.

Some 1.47 million people were out of work in the three months to December, an increase of 46,000.

United Kingdom plc grew by 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the initial official estimate of 0.5 per cent.

In year-on-year terms, downwardly revised growth of 1.4% was the weakest in more than five years.

Total UK GDP is nominally divided between more people as the population grows.

Another report from ONS showed that the British budget balance showed its second highest January surplus on record.

Surveys suggest that Brexit-related trade uncertainty is prompting many managers to freeze investments.

The G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US) saw economic growth of 0.5% during the same period.

Sterling was quoted 0.14% lower at 1.3889 against the US Dollar and the Pound-to-Euro rate was marked 0.24% lower at 1.1299.

Mr Hepburn said: "While unemployment and employment have improved over the year, the slight decrease in employment and increase in unemployment levels over the most recent quarter is disappointing, which is why we recognise the need for further investment in our economy and labour market".

"This factor continued to dampen consumer spending growth in the second half of 2017, but was offset by a stronger world economy, which boosted United Kingdom exports in areas like manufacturing and financial and business services".

Unemployment: Scottish minister says figures are "disappointing" (file pic).

GDP did increase by 0.4% between quarter 3 and quarter 4 previous year, the data showed, and 1.7% between 2016 and 2017.

The ONS has revised down Q4 GDP growth to 0.4%, meaning the United Kingdom is now the slowest-growing major economy in the world.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the figures contained mixed messages for Bank of England rate-setters.

"To make matters worse, it's becoming clear that the slowing momentum experienced at the tail end of past year has dragged into the start of 2018".

32 per cent of firms said sales volumes were up on a year earlier, while 24 per cent said they were down, giving a net balance of 8 per cent.



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