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Hopes GDP figure will rise again

The UK economy looks set to notch up a third successive quarter of improved growth when official figures are published later this week.

Buoyant survey data from a number of sectors has led some economists to predict gross domestic product (GDP) may have grown by nearly 1% in the three months to the end of September.

However, official figures have been less rosy, showing slowdowns in construction and manufacturing during August.

Meanwhile, retail sales have had a rollercoaster ride, soaring amid the July heatwave, before slumping again in August, then recovering in September.

GDP returned to growth in the first quarter of this year, posting a 0.4% increase, improving to 0.7% in the second quarter.

There are hopes that the figure for the third quarter will be up again when the Office for National Statistics announces its first estimate of performance over the three-month period on Friday.

It will be watched for signs of whether the recovery is building or has stalled, coming weeks after Chancellor George Osborne received a boost from the International Monetary Fund as it sharply upgraded its UK growth forecast for 2013 to 1.4%.

Investec's Philip Shaw forecasts 0.8% growth for the third quarter but said it was "not impossible" that this could be closer to 1%.

He said: "Surveys have been very buoyant indeed. However the official data over the quarter so far have portrayed a slightly less robust picture."

Analysts at Scotiabank predict a reading of close to 1% - lying somewhere between "spectacular" survey data suggesting growth of up to 1.5% and official figures pointing to expansion of as little as 0.5%.

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, predicts GDP growth of 0.8%, which would be the strongest since the second quarter of 2010, when a 1% improvement was recorded.

He said domestic demand may have risen by around 1% for the third quarter of 2013 but will have been tempered by disappointing net trade and industrial production figures.

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