LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Britain's economic growth slowed to a crawl at the end of 2018 and the housing market is stalling, according to data published on Friday, less than three months before Brexit.
The Global Manufacturing Index from JPMorgan Chase & Co and IHS Markit Ltd fell in December to the lowest level since September 2016 as measures of orders and hiring weakened, data showed on Wednesday. Overall, the data was indicative of just 0.1pc GDP growth in the final three months of past year.
A relatively strong rate of job creation was maintained across the manufacturing sector in December, although the seasonally adjusted Employment Index eased from the survey-record high seen in the previous month. The same was true for new orders, where a marked expansion was recorded and extended the current sequence of growth to 37 months.
"Clarity on Brexit is needed urgently in order to prevent the economy sliding into contraction", said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
British factories have been ramping up their stockpiling in December.
Five US Federal Reserve (Fed) indexes of regional manufacturing all slumped in December, the first time they've fallen in unison since May 2016.
"The PMI data disappointed again in December, indicating the continuation of only a modest rate of underlying growth across Germany's private sector".
A Markit survey of American manufacturers also showed the slowest growth in December in 15 months, reflecting a dip in confidence among executives about how their businesses will perform in the new year. The main positive development for the service sector has been a softer pace of input cost inflation on average in the final quarter of 2018, as lower fuel prices helped to o set some of the pressure on operating expenses from rising staff wages.
Mrs May is also seeking to win fresh assurances from the European Union over the terms of her agreement, which is set to be voted on by MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) within the next three weeks.
Business optimism also grew as firms hoped large transport and infrastructure projects would boost growth in 2019 - confidence rose to its highest since April, lifting from the near-six-month lows of October. Compared with a year earlier, prices were up just 0.5 percent compared with a 1.9 percent rise in the year to November.
According to the survey, the softening of input cost inflation seen through much of the second half of the year gave way to an outright monthly fall in input prices during December.